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. ~is((>f Lenox and I ilaen Foundations 

by Victor Hugo Paltsits 

under the tt'rms <>/ the last will and testament <>/ 
Catherine Gansevoort Lansing 

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Ljeneral. teter tsansevoort, linimr 

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Honorable ■ nhrtiliaiti Lans 
<>/ . Albany. JVew /or A 















27 and 29 West 23d Street 


Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1869, by 


in the Clerk's Office of the District C ouit of the United Slates, for the 
Southern District of New York. 

Preface to the First Edition. 

HE work, of which I now offer the first volume 
to the public with the most unfeigned diffidence, 
has been mainly compiled from papers commit- 
ted to me by Mr. Irving, with the understanding that I 
was to construct a biography from them, should it be my 
fate to survive him. " Somebody will be writing my life 
when I am gone," said he to me some years before his 
death, and after having resisted repeated applications for 
an autobiography, " and I wish you to do it. Tou must 
promise me that you will." 

Though deeply sensible of the confidence implied in 
such a request, my first impulse was to decline an office 
so responsible, and for which I felt myself so little quali- 
fied; but the request was repeated with an earnestness 
which showed the subject had seriously engaged his 
thoughts, and with the assurance that he would be able 
to place in my keeping materials which he would only 
confide to a relative, and which would of themselves go 



far to furnish a picture of his life from his first launch in 
the world. I yielded my scruples to this assurance ; and 
not long after, he placed in my possession a mass of ma- 
terial, consisting of journals, note-books, diaries at scat- 
tered intervals, and a large collection of family letters, 
with files of others from various correspondents, which, 
as he said, he had neither time nor spirit to examine or 
arrange. He afterwards procured for me his numerous 
letters to his friend, Henry Brevoort, which were fur- 
nished through the kindness of his son, J. Carson Bre- 
voort, Esq.; and shortly before his death indicated to me 
others, both in this country and in Europe, which, if still 
in existence, might be of interest in a narrative of the 
shifting scenes of his life. Of these I have been able to 
obtain, since his death, the originals or copies of such 
as had been preserved ; and to them have been added 
numerous letters, both of his early and later life, which 
have been contributed by various friends, to whom I here 
offer my acknowledgments. 

In the delicate office of sifting, selecting, and arrang- 
ing these different materials, extending through a period 
of nearly sixty years, it has been my aim to make the au- 
thor, in every stage of his career, as far as possible, his 
own biographer, conscious that I shall in this way best 
fulfill the duty devolved upon me, and give to the world 
the truest picture of his life and character. 

Contents of Volume I. 



Birth, Parentage, and Ancestry. — William De Irwin. — Curious Trac- 
ing of the Descent. — Settlement in New York.— Flight to Rail- 
way. — A Prisoner's Certificate. — Home of the Author's Boyhood. 
— His Domestic Training. — His Baptism. — Early Introduction 
to his Namesake 21 


Benjamin Romaine. — Passion for Reading. — Longing to see the 
World. — Commences the Study of the Law. — His First Voyage 
up the Hudson, as related by himself 31 


Enters the Office of Josiah Ogden Hoffman.— The Hoffman Family. 
— First Letters. —First Essays in Print. — Expedition to Ogdens- 
burg. — Extracts from Journal. — Plunge in the Black River.— 
Capture of a Deer. — Hardships of the Wilderness. — A Jealous 
Savage. — Indian Ceremonial.— An Exchange of Names.— Ogdens- 

burg Revisited 40 





Departure for Europe. — Emotions on Leaving. — Letter from Quaran- 
tine. — Arrival at Bordeaux. — Commencement of Journal. — From 
Bordeaux to Nice. — Scenes and Incidents by the Way. — Whimsi 
calities of the Little Doctor. — A Sham Prisoner. — French Pass- 
port. — Spice of Travelling Philosophy. — Police. — A Spy. — A 
Suspected Traveller. — Detention 57 


Continued Detention. — Friendly Offices of Dr. Henry. — Liberation. 
— Takes Felucca for Genoa. — A Whistling Shot. — Loiter at Ge- 
noa. — Agreeable Acquaintances. — Determines to visit Sicily. — 
Allusion to Duel of Hamilton and Burr 72 


From Genoa to Messina. — Christmas at Sea. — Adventure with Pi- 
rates. — Quarantine. — High Converse with Captain Strong 80 


Scylla and Charybdis. — Nelson's Fleet.— Passage to Syracuse. — Ear 
of Dionysius. — The Listening Chamber Explored. — Catania. — 
Partial Ascent of iEtna. — To Palermo. — Dismal Accommoda- 
tions. — A Night Alarm. — A Chance Entertainment 83 


Palermo. — Passage to Naples. — Ascent of Vesuvius. — Farewell to 
Naples. — Rome. — Allston the Painter. — Proposes to Irving to 
try the Brush. — Suspense of the Latter. — Torlonia the Banker. — 



His Flattering Attentions. — Its Ludicrous Solution.— Baron Von 
Humboldt. — Madame De Stael 104 


From Rome to Paris. — Milan. — Increasing Fondness for Opera. — Ar- 
rival in Paris. — Journal relinquished. — Vanderlyn. — Extract of 
Letter to Peter. — From Paris to London. — Kemble. — Cooke. — 
Siddons. — Anecdote of Geoffrey Crayon and Mrs. Siddons. — Nel- 
son's Victor)'. — Passage Home 113 


New York Society in 1806.— The Lads of Kilkenny.— The Old Hall 
at Newark. — City Resorts. — Admission to the Bar. — Letter to 
Mr. Hoffman 130 


Letter to Miss Fairlie. — Mingles in an Election. — Passage of a Letter 
from Miss Fairlie. — His Likeness. — Letter to Miss Fairlie. — At- 
tends the Trial of Burr. — Letter to Mrs. Hoffman. — General 
James Wilkinson. — Letter to James K. Paulding. — Striking Ac- 
count of the first Encounter of Burr and Wilkinson. — Strictures 
on No. 10 of "Salmagundi" by himself.— Thomas A. Cooper, 
the Tragedian. — Letter to Miss Fairlie. — Last Interview with 
Burr. — Death of his Father 146 


Discontinuance of "Salmagundi."— Disparaging Estimate of the 
Work by Irving. — Paulding's Allusion to it.— Remarks on the 
Subject by Duyckinck and Bryant. — Reprinted in London in 
1811.— Reviewed. — Knickerbocker Commenced. — Peter Embarks 



for Europe. — Change in the Plan of Knickerbocker. — Matilda 
Hoffman.— Her Death 162 


Letter to Peter Irving. — Curious Heralding of the " History of New 
York." — Concern of a City Functionary for the Missing Diedrich. 
— Its Publication. — Visit to Albany. — Diedrich's Reception 
among the Dutch. — Opinions of Knickerbocker. — Scott. — Ver- 
planck. — Letter to Mrs. Hoffman 175 


Letter to Mr. Hoffman. — To Mrs. Hoffman. — Biographical Sketch of 
Campbell. — First Perusal of the "Lady of the Lake." — Long- 
ings for Independence. — Partnership Proposal. — Embraces it. . . 189 


Visit to Washington. — Letter to Brevoort. — Jarvis the Painter. — Mrs. 
Madison's Levee. — Knickerbocker the Congressman. — Extract of 
a Letter to Mrs. noffman. — Mrs. Renwick. — Letter to Brevoort. 
— Letter to William Irving. — Joel Barlow and the Secretaryship 
of Legation. — Letters to Brevoort. — George Frederick Cooke, the 
Actor. — His Performance of Macbeth. — His Benefit at the Park 
Theatre 198 


Change of Quarters. — Literary Relaxation. — Passages of a Letter to 
Brevoort. — Breaking out of the War. — Letter of James K. Paul- 
ding. — Visit to Washington. — Letter to James Renwick. — Letter 
to Peter Irving. — To Brevoort 21-1 




The " Analectic Magazine" commenced. — His Contributions to it. 
— Letter to Ebenezer Irving. — Brevoort Transmits Scott's Opin- 
son of the " History of New York." — Introduces Francis Jeffrey. 
— Peter Irving and Campbell the Poet. — Letter of Peter Irving. 
— A Day at Sydenham. — Mrs. Siddons. — Brevoort's Return. — 
Change of Quarters to Mrs. Bradish's. — Letter to Ebenezer 
Irving 225 


The War. — The Flag. — Hears of the British Entry into Washington. 
— Joins the Staff of Governor Tompkins. — An Expected Attack 
on the City. — Sent to Sackett's Harbor on Lake Ontario. — His 
Journey. — Return to New York. — Tompkins. — An Unexpected 
Salute and its Result. — William Irving in Congress. — Washing- 
ton's Letter to him. — His Visit to Philadelphia. — Failure of 
Moses Thomas, the Publisher of the "Analectic." — Decatur and 
his Proposition. — Embarkation for Europe 233 


Arrival at Liverpool. — News of the Battle of Waterloo. — Elation of 
John Bull. — Peter's Indisposition. — Visit to Birmingham. — To 
London. — To Sydenham. — Mrs. Campbell. — Tour in Wales. — 
First Experience in the Cares of Business. — Extracts from Let- 
ters to Brevoort. — Letter to Brevoort. — Sordid Cares. — Anxiety 
for Remittances. — Excursion to London. — Miss O'Neil. — Kean. 
—Campbell 249 


Anxious Days. — Letter to Brevoort.— Peter's Return to Liverpool. — 
Vain Attempts to revive the Literary Feeling. — Letter of All- 



ston. — Death of his Mother.— Letter to Allston. — Ogilvie's Pre- 
diction. — A Day with Campbell. — Dinner with Murray. — 
D'Israeli. — Letter to Peter Irving 261 


Letters to Peter.— Visit to Edinburgh.— Jeffrey.— William C. Pres- 
ton. — Lady Davy. — Visit to Abbotsford. — Anecdotes of Scott 
and his Family. — Excursion to the Highlands with Preston. — 
Constable. — Scott's Impression of Irving. — Letter to Brevoort on 
his Approaching Marriage. — Campbell. — Exertions of William 
to obtain for Washington Secretaryship of Legation 278 


Bankruptcy. — Studies German. — Letter from Allston, giving Ac- 
count of his New Subject for Knickerbocker. — His "Angel 
Uriel." — Leslie's Opinion of it. — Letter from Allston. — Lord 
Egremont's Purchase of his "Jacob's Dream." — Letter to Leslie. 
— Goes up to London to try his Pen. — Parting with Allston. — 
Sketch of Leslie and Newton. — Letter to Brevoort about New 
Edition of Knickerbocker. — No intention of Publishing in Eng- 
land. — Declines an Offer of a Place under Government 290 


Transmits Number I. of the "Sketch Book." — Letter to Ebenezer 
Irving on the Subject. — Motives for Remaining in Europe. — 
Letter to Brevoort requesting him to assume the Guardianship 
of his Literary Interests, etc. — Moses Thomas and Third Edition 
of Knickerbocker. — Publication of First Number of "Sketch 
Book." — Verplanck's Notice of Number I. — Number II. of the 
" Sketch Book." — Dana's Remarks on " Rural Life in England." 



— William Godwin on Number II. — Impatient Longing for Ac- 
counts from America. — Ogilvie's Sympathy. — Letters to Bre- 
voort. — Letter from Brevoort. — Publication of Number III. — 
Number IV. forwarded. — Letters to Brevoort. — Letter to Leslie. 
— Republication of Number I. in the "London Literary Ga- 
zette." — The Three American Numbers offered to Murray. — His 
Refusal. — Applies to Scott. — His Reply. — Draft of Irving's Re- 
ply. — Second Letter from Scott. — Resolve to Publish in England 
at his own Risk 302 


Ebenezer Irving takes charge of his Literary Concerns in America. — 
Transmits No. V. to him. consisting of "Christmas." — Written 
for Peculiar Tastes. — Transmits No. VI. — "Legend of Sleepy 
Hollow." — The first Four Numbers published in England by 
Miller. — Author's Advertisement to the Edition. — Letter of Scott 
on the Subject. — Passage of a Letter from Leslie. — Failure of 
Miller. — Murray takes "Sketch Book "in Hand. — A Peep into 
his Drawing-room. — Letter to James K. Paulding. — Gifford, the 
Editor of the " Quarterly Review." — Scott. — Views of Matri- 
mony. — Decatur. — English Edition of a Second Volume of the 
"Sketch Book" commenced. — Transmits No. VII. to New York. 
— The last of the American Series. — Publication of Second Vol- 
ume in London. — Allusion to Lockhart's Review of Knicker- 
bocker in "Blackwood." — Letter to Brevoort. — Belzoni. — Hal- 
lam. — About to cross the Channel. — Yearnings for Home 333 


Lodgings in Paris. — Growing Popularity of the "Sketch Book "in 
England. — Its Parentage ascribed to Scott. — Correspondence on 



the Subject. — Christmas Invitation. — Murray authorizes Draft 
of One Hundred Guineas for "Sketch Book," in addition to the 
Terms agreed upon, and publishes Knickerbocker. — Letter to 
Leslie. — His Designs for Knickerbocker. — His Likeness of Geof- 
frey. — Peter Powell's Burlesque Account of its Costume. — The 
Author's Sensitive Comment, and Leslie's Reply. — Subjects 
chosen by Leslie for Knickerbocker. — The Author's Opinion of 
them. — Increasing Reputation in England 349 


Makes the Acquaintance of Thomas Moore, the Poet. — Visit to the 
Prison of Mario Antoinette. — Letter to Brevoort. — Reasons for 
remaining Abroad. — Moore. — Canning. — Moore's Hint of the 
Origin of "Bracebridge Hall." — Another Glimpse of Irving from 
Moore. — John Howard Payne. — Talma. — His Performance of 
Hamlet. — Letter to Leslie. — Kenney, Author of "Raising the 
Wind," etc. — Luttrel. — Introduced to the Hollands. — Murray 
begs his Acceptance of an Additional One Hundred Pounds for 
the "Sketch Book." — The Author's Letter thereupon. — Reads 
Manuscript to Moore. — Bancroft. — Sets off for England July 
11th, hoping to have Something ready for the Press by Autumn. 363 


The Coronation of George IV. — Meeting with Scott. — Detained in 
London about a Play of Payne. — Literary Concerns. — Excursion 
to Birmingham with Leslie. — "The Stout Gentleman." — Its 
Moral. — Kept at Birmingham by Hlness. — Newton's Introduc- 
tion to La Butte by himself. — Leslie and Powell's Joint Account 
of their Housekeeping in Buckingham Place. — Letter to Leslie. 
—Death of his Brother William.— Moore 379 



Return to London. — Transmits First Volume of " Bracebridge Hall." 
— Moses Thomas. — Cooper and " The Spy." — Sends off Volume 
II. " Bracebridge Hall." — Makes Contract with Murray for Pub- 
lication in England. — John Randolph.— Mrs. Siddons. — Visit to 
Wimbledon, one of the Country-seats of Earl Spencer. — Meeting 
with Rogers. — Visit to the Country-seat of Thomas Hope. — 
Lines written in the Deep Dene Album. — Rogers. — Matthews, 
the Comedian. — Preparing for an Excursion into Germany 391 


Aix-la-Chapelle. — Old Custom. — Mayence. — Introduction to the 
" Tales of a Traveller." — Heidelberg. — Letter from Moore. — 
Munich. — Eugene Beauharnois. — Vienna. — The Young Xa- 
poleon 403 


From Vienna to Dresden. — Private Theatricals. — Letter to Mrs. Van 
Wart. — Letter to Peter. — The Conspiracy. — Plays Sir Charles 
Rackett in " Three "Weeks after Marriage." — Letter to Leslie. — 

Extracts from Xote-book. — Leaves Dresden for Paris 408 

vol. i. — 2 



"Washington Ikying. 



ASHINGTON IRVING was born in the city of 
New York, April 3d, 1783. He was the eighth 
son of William and Sarah Irving, and the 
youngest of eleven children, three of whom died in in- 
fancy. He had four brothers and three sisters who lived 
to mature age, and whom, as I shall have occasion to 
speak of them in the course of my narrative, I here name 
in the order of birth : "William, Ann, Peter, Catharine, 
Ebenezer, John, Sarah. 

The parents of "Washington came from the opposite 

ends of Great Britain ; his father from the Orkneys ; his 



mother from Cornwall. The father was the son of Mag- 
nus Irving and Catharine Williamson, and his ancestors 
bore on their seals the three holly leaves, which are the 
arms of the Irvines of Drum, one of the oldest and most 
respectable families of Scotland, which dates its origin 
from the days of Kobert Bruce. 

According to a received tradition, in his secret and 
precipitate flight for Scotland from the court of Edward 
I., Bruce sought shelter in the tower of Woodhouse, the 
dwelling of an Irving of Bonshaw, who was chief of the 
name. Here he was harbored for some time, and on 
leaving, he took with him the eldest son of his host, 
whom he made his secretary and armor-bearer. The 
son accompanied him through all his varying fortunes, 
was with him when he was surprised and routed at Meth- 
ven, in June, 1306, shared all his subsequent dangers and 
hardships, and was one of seven who lay concealed with 
him in a copse of holly when his pursuers passed by. 
In memory of his escape in this extremity of peril, Bruce 
assumed the holly as a device, and afterwards gave it to 
his faithful secretary, with the motto, Sub sole sub umbra 
virens. The motto and the evergreen leaves, both having 
relation to his unchanging fidelity to his king in prosper- 
ity and adversity, in sunshine and in shade, have been 
the arms of the family ever since. Sir William Irvine, 
as he is styled in Nisbet's " Heraldry," * was subse- 

* The name is written in ancient deeds and parchments in a great 
variety of ways, as Irvin, Erwyne, De Irwin, etc. Dr. Christopher Irvine, 


quently Master of the Kolls, and the charter is still 
extant, dated 4th October, 1324, by which the king con- 
veyed to his faithful and beloved William De Irwyn, in 
free barony, the lands of Drum, a hunting-seat of the 
kings of Scotland, situated on the north bank of the 
river Dee, about ten miles from Aberdeen. The tower 
of Drum, with its walls of solid masonry, still stands as 
sound and unimpaired as when the estate was conveyed, 
and is still occupied by the Irvings, and lays claim to 
the distinction of being the oldest inhabited dwelling in 

William De Irwyn married Mariota, the daughter of 
Sir Eobert Keith, Great Mareschal of Scotland, who led 
the horse at Bannockbum and was killed at the battle 
of Duplin in 1332. 

Of this family, says Dr. Christopher Irvine, historiog- 
rapher of Charles II., in an ancient document quoted in 
Playfair's " British Family Antiquity," are the Irvines of 
Orkney. But at what time his branch of the family was 
transplanted to that locality, the author had no informa- 
tion other than a family tradition, that it was during 
some troubles in Scotland prior to the reign of Charles 
II. A few years previous to his death, some legal con- 
troversy arising in England on the subject of the copy- 
right of his works, a London publisher was led to apply 
to Kirkwall for documentary proof of his father's place 

one of the stock, in 1CG0 says : "Some of the foolish write themselves 
Irving." The present family of Drum spells the name Irvine. 


of birth. In making the necassary researches, the Clerk 
of the Records was induced to trace his descent as far 
back as possible, and it is a curious fact that he was 
enabled to do it through four centuries, from a facility- 
afforded by the ancient " Udal " laws of that region, 
which required that lands, on the death of the owner, 
should be divided equally among the sons and daugh- 
ters ; a peculiarity which led in the partition, to the 
mention of the names and relationships of all the par- 
ties who were to draw a share. The result of these re- 
searches showed that "William De Erwin," the first 
Orkney Irvine and earliest cadet of Drum, was an inhab- 
itant of Kirkwall, the metropolis of the island group, in 
1369, the same year in which Thomas, the eldest son and 
successor of the armor-bearer, is mentioned among the 
barons of the Scottish Parliament ; that the Irvings held 
landed possessions in Pomona, the island in which Kirk- 
wall is situated, up to 1597, when Magnus, eldest son of 
James the "Lawman" or chief judge of the Orkneys, 
sold his share of his father's property in the neighbor- 
hood of Kirkwall to a younger brother, and removed to 
the contiguous island of Shapinsha, where, in 1731, was 
born William, the father of the author. 

On the death of his mother, who had always opposed 
his wishes on this point, William yielded to the long- 
cherished desire of his boyhood, and went to sea. Dur- 
ing the war between France and England he engaged on 
board of an armed packet ship of his British Majesty 


plying between Falmouth and New York, and was a petty 
officer in this service when he met with Sarah Sanders, 
the only child of John and Anna Sanders, and grand- 
daughter of an English curate whose name was Kent. 
Their marriage took place on the 18th May, 1761, and 
two years thereafter, on the return of peace, the youth- 
ful pair embarked for New York, where they landed on 
the 18th July, 1763, having buried their first child on the 
shores of England. 

Mr. Irving took up his residence in the city not far 
from " The old Walton House," as it now proclaims it- 
self with boastful longevity, then recently erected, which 
with the Middle Dutch Church, still resisting at that 
time the language of England in spite of a century of 
British domination, now shorn of its honors and trans- 
formed into a post-office, are almost the only relics left 
of the contracted and half rural city of that day. 

On settling in New York, the father of the author en- 
tered into mercantile business. He was getting on suc- 
cessfully, when the Revolution broke out ; and he found 
his quiet dwelling under the guns of one of the English 
ships in the harbor at the time when, in consequence of 
General Lee's measures, it was apprehended they would 
fire upon the town. A general panic prevailed ; many of 
the inhabitants fled to the country, and among the num- 
ber Mr. Irving and his little flock, with whom he took 
refuge at Eahway in New Jersey. Here he was not much 
better off : business was at an end ; his children suffered 


from fever and ague, and finally, when the British made 
an incursion into the Jerseys, he returned to New York, 
after an absence of nearly two years, during which almost 
half of the city had been destroyed by fire. 

Throughout the revolutionary contest, he and his wife 
exerted themselves without ceasing in alleviating the suf- 
ferings of American prisoners. The mother of the au- 
thor, who possessed a character of rare generosity and 
benevolence, was especially zealous in this charitable 
ministry. Prisoners were supplied with food from her 
own table ; and she often went in person to visit them 
when ill, furnishing them with clothes, blankets, and 
other necessaries. Cunningham, so noted for his bru- 
tality, always softened at her appearance. " I'd rather 
you'd send them a rope, Mrs. Irving," he would say ; but 
her charity was invariably permitted to reach its object. 

Mr. Irving was particularly concerned in administering 
to some patriot clergymen of his denomination, who were 
imprisoned. From one of these, as the time approached 
for the British to evacuate New York and the Ameri- 
can troops to take possession, he received the following 
quaint certificate, evidently given under an impression 
that his residence in the city during the war might sub- 
ject his loyalty to doubt, and expose him to the risk of 
harsh and proscriptive treatment. 

"These may certify whom it may concern, whether 
civil or military officers, that Deacon William Irving, 
merchant in this city, appeared to be friendly in- 


clined to the liberties of the United States, and greatly 
lamented the egregious barbarities practised by her 
enemies on the unhappy sons of liberty, that un- 
happily fell in their power — contributed largely to my 
relief (who was a prisoner in this city as early in the war 
as June, 1779), and was probably an instrument under 
God of the preservation of my life — and by credible ac- 
counts I have had from other prisoners, both in the city 
and country, has been the means of the preservation of 
theirs also." 

This document is signed "Blackleach Burritt, Minis- 
ter of the Gospel in the Presbyterian Church," and bears 
date November 15, 1783, ten days before Washington and 
his army entered the city. 

It was some months previous, as we have seen, that 
his infant namesake first saw the light. The two-story 
dwelling in which he was born, No. 131 William Street, 
about half-way between Fulton and John, was long ago 
pulled down. Within a year after his birth, the family 
moved across the way to No. 128. A deed from the exec- 
utors of Samuel Prince, bearing date in the August suc- 
ceeding his birth, conveys to "William Irving, Mer- 
chant," the house and lot, " 25 feet front by 156 feet 
deep," for the "consideration of two thousand pounds 
current money of the State of New York." This was 
then, or had lately been occupied by a British commis- 
sary, and after some alterations and additions it became 
the family residence, and was the homestead in which the 


author grew up, and around which were gathered the 
recollections of his infancy and boyhood. 

It was a triple structure, composed of a front and rear 
edifice of two stories, with a narrow central buiklincr, 
forming a passage between them and connecting the two ; 
its roof descending to an attic window in each division. 
It was my fortune to accompany the author when he 
visited the old homestead in 1849, on the eve of its dem- 
olition, and I remember with what a half giddy feeling, 
as we stood in the yard, he pointed out the rear building 
from which, a venturesome urchin, he would climb to 
this sloping roof, steal along its dizzy edge to the higher 
window of the front garret, mount thence to the roof of 
one of the adjoining buildings, drop a stone down the 
chimney, and then clamber back to his hiding-place, 
chuckling over the imagined wonder and perplexity he 
had created. 

This was but one instance of a mischievous vivacity of 
spirits, which showed itself in a great variety of pranks ; 
though the system of domestic government under which 
he grew up was little calculated to foster a lively dispo- 
sition. The father, a sedate, conscientious, God-fear- 
ing man, with much of the strictness of the old Scotch 
Covenanter in his composition, had small sympathy with 
the amusements of his children, and lost no opportunity 
of giving their thoughts a serious turn. That he was 
somewhat overstrict in his discipline there can be little 
doubt — at least his children, with a high respect for his 


character, always retained that impression of him. " When 
I was young," I have heard Washington say, " I was led 
to think that, somehow or other, everything that was 
pleasant was wicked." Notwithstanding the paternal 
strictness, however, they were a merry household, find- 
ing diversion in everything ; and though sometimes their 
frolics partook of mischief, and they were tempted to 
steal away, as they grew older, to some fascinating, the 
more so because forbidden, place of amusement, the 
foundation laid resulted throughout in characters of rare 
uprightness, combined with a more than ordinary degree 
of the intellectual and imaginative. Among his contem- 
poraries, the father was held in the highest regard. 
" You come of a gude stock," said a worthy Scot of his 
acquaintance to the writer of this memoir, waiving a 
proffered security ; " I'll trust you." 

It is a little curious, considering the form of faith in 
which the author was reared, that he should have been 
conducted to the chapel of St. George in Beekman Street, 
to receive his baptismal name. This was soon after 
Washington and his army had entered the city. But the 
rite was performed by a Presbyterian, though in an Epis- 
copal sanctuary, an anomaly growing out of the circum- 
stance that the churches of that denomination had been 
dismantled during the Kevolution, and were now being 
refitted with pulpit and pews; during which interval 
their Episcopal brethren gave the returning congrega- 
tions the use of their precincts for half the Sabbath. 


His name of Washington was the means of procuring 
him an early introduction to that illustrious personage, 
when he came back to New York, then the seat of gov- 
ernment, as President of the United States. A young 
Scotch maid-servant of the family, struck with the en- 
thusiasm which everywhere greeted his arrival, deter- 
mined to present the child to his distinguished namesake. 
Accordingly, she followed him one morning into a shop, 
and pointing to the lad who had scarcely outgrown his 
virgin trousers: "Please your honor," said she, "here's 
a bairn was named after you." In the estimation of Liz- 
zie, for so she was called, few clailns of kindred could be 
stronger than this. Washington did not disdain the deli- 
cate affinity, and placing his hand on the head of her lit- 
tle charge, gave him his blessing. 



IN Lis fourth year, "Washington was sent to a 
school in Ann Street, between William and 
Gold, kept by a Mrs. Ann Kilmaster. Here he 
continued upwards of two years, making very little prog- 
ress beyond the alphabet. 

From Mrs. Kilmaster's he was transferred, towards 
the close of 1789, to a school for both sexes kept by Ben- 
jamin Komaine at 198 Fulton, then 37 Partition Street. 
Romaine had been a soldier in the Revolution, and was a 
thorough disciplinarian. He was a man of good sense 
and sound judgment, but of moderate scholarship. At 
this school the author remained until he was fourteen 
years of age. He soon became a favorite with the quon- 
dam soldier, who had a way of designating his prefer- 
ence by calling him "General," though his partiality 
seems to have arisen at first, not so much from any indi- 
cations of talent in his pupil as from the fact that, though 

constantly in mischief, he never sought to shelter himself 



by prevarication when called up to be questioned, but 
always confessed the truth. 

Another trait which was mentioned by a female school- 
mate in after life, was his unwillingness to witness the 
chastisement of the other boys. The standing punish- 
ment inflicted on truants was horsing, or hoisting, so 
called, and as the culprits had to be untrussed, it was 
always administered after school when the girls had been 
dismissed. But little Irving, she said, could not endure 
the spectacle ; the sight of the unlucky urchin shrinking 
under the rod was too much for his nerves, and he finally 
insisted on leaving with the girls, and was permitted. 

Though he had little inclination for dry study, his 
taste for reading was early developed. In his tenth year, 
he fell in with Hoole's translation of the " Orlando Furi- 
oso," then just published, and I have heard him recur 
with delight to the exciting interest of its pages, and 
dwell with evident complacency upon his achievements 
in parodying the feats of arms of which he had been 
reading ; sallying forth into the yard of his father's house, 
the grand theatre of his youthful exploits, with wooden 
sabre to encounter some little playmate, fired like him- 
self with noble zeal to prove himself a true knight, and 
rushing to the onset with his favorite motto : — 


"Where'er my footsteps go, my deeds proclaim, 
War is my sport, and Rodomont my name." 

At the age of eleven, books of voyages and travels 


became his passion. This feeling was first awakened 
by the perusal of " Robinson Crusoe " and " Sindbad 
the Sailor." Afterwards he met with " The World Dis- 
played," a collection of voyages and travels, selected 
from the writers of all nations, in twenty small duo- 
decimo volumes, embellished with cuts, and this was an 
inexhaustible treasure. He was not permitted to read at 
home after retiring to his bed, but such was their fascina- 
tion that he used to secrete candles to enable him to do 
so. These volumes he would also take to school, and 
snatch hasty moments of reading under the shelter of 
his desk. One day, Eomaine saw him busily intent on 
one of them, and creeping up slyly behind him, thrust 
his hand down, and seizing the forbidden book, ordered 
him to remain after school to answer for the offense. 
The result, however, was very different from what he 
had anticipated ; for his instructor, perceiving in what 
the reading consisted, gave him credit for the taste he 
showed in the selection, and only cautioned him that he 
could not permit him to cultivate the propensity to the 
neglect of the regular exercises of the school. 

This continual reading of travels and voyages begot in 
time a great desire to go to sea. " How wistfully," says 
he, in the introduction to the " Sketch Book," " would I 
wander about the pier-heacls in fine weather, and watch 
the parting ships bound to distant climes — with what 
longing eyes would I gaze after their lessening sails, and 
waft myself in imagination to the ends of the earth ! " 

VOL. i.— 3 


A performance, which indicates an early literary ten- 
dency, and which may be referred to the age of thirteen, 
was the writing of a play, which was represented at a 
" friend's house in the presence of Mrs. Melmoth, a well- 
known actress of that day. He had first attended the 
theatre with James K. Paulding, his early literary asso- 
ciate, who had left his home in Westchester County for 
the city, where he was then living with William Irving, 
who had married his sister. Paulding was four and a 
half years his senior. The performance was " Specula- 
tion," a comedy in which Jefferson was the chief attrac- 
tion. He was delighted with the acting of this comedian, 
and from this time he conceived great fondness for the 
theatre. It was at this period that he was delivered of 
his play, of which, however, not a fragment, not even the 
title lingered in his memory. It is fair to presume it had 
great dramatic demerit. 

The anecdote is of use only as serving to display an 
early scribbling propensity. He had been remarked at 
school for the ease and fluency of his pen, and would fre- 
quently effect an exchange of tasks with the other boys, 
and write their compositions, while they in turn would 
work out his sums ; for arithmetic was the most tedious 
of all his studies. 

His education was completed before he had attained 
his sixteenth year ; at least from this period he assumed 
the direction of his own studies. His brothers, Peter 
and John, had been sent to Columbia College, and why 


he did not receive the same advantage he could never 
satisfactorily explain, except that he was more alive to 
the drudgerv than the advantage of a course of academic 
training. He never failed, however, to regret the omis- 
sion in after life. 

At the age of sixteen he entered the law-office of 
Henry Masterton, a respectable practitioner with whom 
his brother John was also serving an apprenticeship to a 
distasteful vocation; for though this brother afterwards 
attained to the dignity of the bench, his early preference 
inclined him to the ministry. 

Whatever may have determined the choice of Wash- 
ington to the thorny paths of the law, it is certain he 
could not have been prompted to it by his father, for the 
profession never enjoyed his good opinion. At an earlier 
period, when Peter had decided to embrace it, he inter- 
posed his authority to prevent him, and he thereupon 
turned his attention to medicine, a pursuit always uncon- 
genial to him, and speedily abandoned ; though the title 
of "Doctor" remained with him for life. Washington 
spent an interval of two years in the office of Mr. Master- 
ton, which was marked by considerable proficiency in 
belles-lettres, but very slender advancement in the dry 
technicalities of the practice. 

It was at this period of still happy boyhood, that he 
made his first voyage up the Hudson, the extraordinary 
beauty of which, says Bryant, he was the first to describe. 
His eldest sister, Ann, in 1788, at the early age of seven- 


teen, had married Eichard Dodge, of Dutchess County, 
who, previous to their marriage, while employed as 
surveyor on the Mohawk, had been tempted to try his 
fortunes in this, at that time, frontier world. He had 
persuaded William Irving, the elder brother, then just 
twenty-one, to accompany him. They established them- 
selves on the river about forty miles west of Albany, that 
country being then filled with Indians, with whom the 
trade in furs was extremely profitable. William remained 
there four years, when he wearied of the frontier life, and 
in 1791 returned to the city to engage in commercial 
business, and Mr. Dodge removed to Johnstown, a colo- 
nial town founded by Sir William Johnson, and having 
something of historic interest as the scene where, at his 
stately mansion, "the Hall," this agent of the British 
Government ruled for years over the neighboring tribes 
of Indians with sovereign sway. His second sister, Cath- 
arine, some years later had married Daniel Paris, a young 
lawyer of that region, with whom she had become ac- 
quainted at New York, while in college with her brother 
Peter, and who afterwards removed to the same place, 
which, from the character of its early settlement and its 
proximity to Schenectady and Albany, still boasted at 
that time quite a gay and cultivated society. To gratify 
his restless desire to see more of "the vast globe" he 
inhabited, his parents had consented to his making an 
excursion to visit these two married sisters. He had 
before passed a holiday in Westchester County, during 


the fever of 1798, and explored the recesses of Sleepy 
Hollow with his gun, but his migrations had extended no 
further. The Highlands and all beyond were still, to his 
eager imagination, a realm of wonder and enchantment. 
From the moment, therefore, the expedition was men- 
tioned, he thought and dreamt of nothing else. 

I transcribe from his papers some reminiscences of this 
early voyage, which was made in 1800. They form part 
of an unfinished article commenced in June, 1851, for 
" The Home Book of the Picturesque," and afterwards 
thrown aside to give place to " The Kaatskill Moun- 
tains," the title of the contribution from his pen which 
appears in its pages. The reader familiar with that 
sketch will detect here and there a passage which has 
been retained from the rejected fragment, but with this 
exception the extract is new, and affords a curious pic- 
ture of some of the features of the river travel of by-gone 

My first voyage up the Hudson was made in early boyhood, in the good 
old times before steamboats and railroads had annihilated time and space, 
and driven all poetry and romance out of travel. A voyage to Albany 
then, was equal to a voyage to Europe at present, and took almost as 
much time. We enjoyed the beauties of the river in those days ; the 
features of nature were not all jumbled together, nor the towns and vil- 
lages huddled one into the other by railroad speed as they are now. 

I was to make the voyage under the protection of a relative of mature 
age — one experienced in the river. His first care was to look out for a 
favorite sloop and captain, in which there was great choice. 

The constant voyaging in the river craft by the best families of New 


York and Albany, made the merits of captains and sloops matters of no- 
toriety and discussion in both cities. The captains were mediums of com- 
munication between separated friends and families. On the arrival of 
one of them at either place he had messages to deliver and commissions 
to execute which took him from house to house. Some of the ladies of 
the family had, perad venture, made a voyage on board of his sloop, and 
experienced from him that protecting care which is always remembered 
with gratitude by female passengers. In this way the captains of Albany 
sloops were personages of more note in the community than captains of 
European packets or steamships at the present day. A sloop was at 
length chosen ; but she had yet to complete her freight and secure a suffi- 
cient number of passengers. Days were consumed in "drumming up" 
a cargo. This was a tormenting delay to me who was about to make my 
first voyage, and who, boylike, had packed up my trunk on the first men- 
tion of the expedition. How often that trunk had to be unpacked and 
repacked before we sailed ! 

. . . . At length the sloop actually got under way. As she worked 
slowly out of the dock into the stream, there was a great exchange of 
last words between friends on board and friends on shore, and much 
waving of handkerchiefs when the sloop was out of hearing. 

Our captain was a worthy man, native of Albany, of one of the old 
Dutch stocks. His crew was composed of blacks, reared in the family 
and belonging to him, for negro slavery still existed in the State. All his 
communications with them were in Dutch. They were obedient to his 
orders ; though they occasionally had much previous discussion of the 
wisdom of them, and were sometimes positive in maintaining an opposite 
opinion. This was especially the case with an old gray-headed negro, 
who had sailed with the captain's father when the captain was a mere 
boy, and who was very crabbed and conceited on points of seamanship. 
I observed that the captain generally let him have his own way. 

. . . . What a time of intense delight was that first sail through 
the Highlands! I sat on the deck as we slowly tided along at the foot of 
those stern mountains, and gazed with wonder and admiration at cliffs 
impending far above me, crowned with forests, with eagles sailing and 


screaming-around them ; or listened to the unseen stream dashing down 
precipices ; or beheld rock, and tree, and cloud, and sky reflected in the 
glassy stream of the river. And then how solemn and thrilling the scene 
as we anchored at night at the foot of these mountains, clothed with 
overhanging forests ; and everything grew dark and mysterious ; and I 
heard the plaintive note of the whip-poor-will from the mountain-side, 
or was startled now and then by the sudden leap and heavy splash of the 

. . . . But of all the scenery of the Hudson, the Kaatskill Moun- 
tains had the most witching effect on my boyish imagination. Never 
shall I forget the effect upon me of the first view of them predominating 
over a wide extent of country, part wild, woody, and rugged; part soft- 
ened away into all the graces of cultivation. As we slowly floated along, 
I lay on the deck and watched them through a long summer's day, under- 
going a thousand mutations under the magical effects of atmosphere ; 
sometimes seeming to approach, at other times to recede ; now almost 
melting into hazy distance, now burnished by the setting sun, until in 
the evening, they printed themselves against the glowing sky in the deep 
purple of an Italian landscape. 

In the foregoing pages I have given the reader my first voyaging amid 
Hudson scenery. It has been my lot, in the course of a somewhat wan- 
dering life, to behold some of the rivers of the old world, most renowned 
in history and song, yet none have been able to efface or dim the pictures 
of my native stream thus early stamped upon my memory. My heart 
would ever revert to them with a filial feeling, and a recurrence of the 
joyous associations of boyhood ; and such recollections are, in fact, the 
true fountains of youth which keep the heart from growing old. 

To me the Hudson is full of storied associations, connected as it is with 
some of the happiest portions of my life. Each striking feature brings to 
mind some early adventure or enjoyment ; some favorite companion who 
shared it with me ; some fair object, perchance, of youthful admiration, 
who, like a star, may have beamed her allotted time and passed away. 



N the summer of 1801, Mr. Irving left Master- 
ton, and entered the office of Brockholst Liv- 
ingston ; and when that eminent lawyer was 
called to the Bench of the Supreme Court of the State, 
in January, 1802, he continued his clerkship with Josiah 
Ogden Hoffman, a distinguished advocate of the city, who 
took a fancy to him, though, as he says himself, a very 
heedless student. The house of Hoffman soon became 
another home to him. 

The family of Mr. Hoffman consisted of a second wife, 
whom he had lately married, a Miss Fenno of Philadel- 
phia, much younger than himself, a daughter of the Fed- 
eral editor of that name, and five children by a former 
marriage — four daughters, the two eldest, Ann and Ma- 
tilda, of the ages of fourteen and twelve, and a son, quite 
a child, Ogden Hoffman, afterwards distinguished at the 
bar and on the floor of Congress for his silver-tongued 



oratory. With Mrs. Hoffman, a most amiable and inter- 
esting woman, the young student formed an intimacy 
which continued till her death, and to her many of his 
letters are addressed. " She was like a sister to me," is 
the language in which he once wrote of her. 

Soon after his admission to this little circle, he made 
a second visit to Johnstown. The following letter, dated 
from that old colonial town, is the earliest which has 
come into my possession, and is of interest chiefly as 
showing his delicate state of health at this period, and 
the indications of that consumptive tendency which sub- 
sequently led to his first visit to Europe. 

Johnstown , July 2, 1802. 

My dear Paken-ts : — 

We had a very quick passage to Albany, where we arrived at three 
o'clock on Thursday morning. I was unwell almost the whole time, and 
could not sleep either night. We left Albany about an hour after we 
arrived there, in a wagon, and reached Johnstown between ten and eleven 
in the evening. The roads were fine, being turnpike almost the whole 
way ; but I was so weak that it was several days before I got over the 
fatigue. I have had a little better appetite since I have been up here, 
though I have been troubled with the pain in my breast almost constantly, 
and still have a cough at night. I am unable to take any exercise worth 
mentioning, and doze away my time pretty much as I did in New York ; 
however, I hope soon to get in a better trim. 

The letter next in date is written nearly a month later, 
and is addressed to a young friend of his own age, at 
whose father's place at New Kochelle, about eighteen 


miles from New York, he was often a guest, and whose 
sister became afterwards the wife of his brother, John T. 

Johnstown, Jaly 26th, 1803. 

To Mr. John Furman, at Alderman Beefoman's, Vesey Street, New 
York : — 

Dear John : .... I have been unwell almost all the time I have 
been up here. I am too weak to take any exercise, and too low-spirited 
half the time to enjoy company. My chief amusements are reading, 
drawing, and writing letters — the two latter I have to do more sparingly 
than I could wish, on account of the pain in my breast. I have nothing 
particular to communicate at present that would be in the least interest- 
ing. I shall go shortly to the springs, and will write to you from there, 
if any private opportunity presents. Do write to me immediately, about 
even-thing and everybody— every trifle of news from New York is in- 
teresting ; tell me how all the girls do, both in the city and country. 
Make my warmest remembrances to all your family, and believe me, my 
dear fellow, Your friend, 

Washington Irving. 

From Johnstown he accompanied his brother-in-law, 
Daniel Paris, to Ballston Springs. His cough would 
seem to have been very aggravated. " Was that young 
Irving," asked Judge Kent of Mr. Paris, " who slept in 
the next room to me, and kept up such au incessant 
cough during the night? " "It was," was the reply. "He 
is not long for this world," rejoined the foreboding que- 
rist. The Judge, afterwards the distinguished Chancel- 
lor, lived to preside at a public dinner given thirty years 
later to the consumptive invalid. 


Though his health was still drooping, we find him a 
few months after his return commencing a series of hu- 
morous contributions to the " Morning Chronicle," under 
the signature of Jonathan Oldstyle. This was a daily 
paper, of which his brother Peter was proprietor and 
editor, and which was established in October, 1802. 
The first of these articles appeared in the middle of No- 
vember, when the writer was nineteen years of age. In 
these juvenile essays we may see traces of the same play 
of humor which marked his pen in after years ; and 
though of local and temporary interest, it is singular to 
what degree, in that barren period of our literature, they 
attracted attention, being generally copied, as I have 
been informed, into the newspapers of the day. They 
also procured him a visit from Charles Brockden Brown, 
who had given to the world a series of remarkable nov- 
els, and was the first in our country to make a profession 
of literature. Brown sought, but without success, to en- 
list his pen in the service of the " Literary Magazine and 
American Register," a periodical he had just undertaken 
in Philadelphia. In 1823, when Mr. Irving was abroad, 
and had become something of a literary lion in Europe, 
the Oldstyle Papers were given anew to the world with- 
out his knowledge or consent, and a good deal to his re- 
gret, though he subsequently thought of including four of 
them in his collected writings. 

In the summer of 1803, Irving was invited by Mr. 
Hoffman to accompany him on an expedition to Ogdens- 


burg, Montreal, and Quebec, and gladly availed himseli 
of the opportunity to extend the range of his travels. In 
this progressive age, when we can be whirled the entire 
distance in less than twenty-four hours, a journey from 
New York to Ogdensburg would promise little of inci- 
dent or adventure ; but it was a formidable undertaking 
at that early day, and involved difficulties, discomforts, 
and trials of patience, of which the modern tourist can 
have no idea. Indeed, could the travellers themselves 
have foreseen the fatigues and hardships they would 
have to encounter, it is certain their enterprise would not 
have been equal to the trial. Without, however, any just 
knowledge or appreciation of its labors or privations, the 
party of seven, Mr. and Mrs. Hoffman, Mr. and Mrs. 
Ludlow Ogden, Miss Eliza Ogden, Miss Ann Hoffman, 
and himself, found themselves, on the 31st of July, 1803, 
on board of a sloop bound for Albany. From that place 
they proceeded to Ballston and Saratoga Springs, and 
thence, Irving making a flying visit to Johnstown by the 
way, to the modern city of Utica, then a village uncon- 
scious of the sound of " church-^oins bell." From this 
point they were to diverge to Ogdensburg, or Oswegat- 
chie, as it was then called, on the St. Lawrence, where 
Hoffman and Ogden owned some wild lands, and pur- 
posed to lay out a town. 

Irving kept a journal of the expedition from New York 
to Ogdensburg, which was struck off in the midst of 
hurry and fatigue, and of course is very carelessly writ- 


ten ; but it has an interest independent of any literary 
value, as a picture of travel in those early days of our 

On Monday, August 9th, they set off from Utica for 
the High Falls, on Black River, in two wagons, having 
despatched another with the principal part of their bag- 
gage. The roads were bad, and lay either through thick 
woods, or by fields disfigured with burnt stumps and 
fallen bodies of trees. The next day they grew worse, 
and the travellers were frequently obliged to get out of 
the wagon and walk. At High Falls they embarked in a 
scow on Black River, so called from the dark color of its 
waters ; but soon the rain began to descend in torrents, 
and they sailed the whole afternoon and evening under 
repeated showers, from which they were but partially 
screened by sheets stretched on hoop poles. About 
twenty-five miles below the Falls they went ashore, and 
found lodgings for the night at a log-house, on beds 
spread on the floor. The next morning it cleared off 
beautifully, and they set out again in their boat. On 
turning a point in the river, they were surprised by loud 
shouts which proceeded from two or three canoes in full 
pursuit of a deer which was swimming in the water. A 
gun was soon after fired, and they rowed with all their 
micdit to set in at the death. " The deer made for 
our shore," says the journal. " We pushed ashore im- 
mediately, and as it passed, Mr. Ogden fired and 
wounded it. It had been wounded before. I threw off 


ray coat, and prepared to swim after it. As it came near, 
a man rushed through the bushes, sprang into the water, 
and made a grasp at the animal. He missed his aim, and 
I jumped after, fell on his Lack, and sunk him under 
water. At the same time I caught the deer by one ear, 
and Mr. Ogden seized it by a leg. The submerged gen- 
tleman, who had risen above water, got hold of another. 
We drew it ashore, when the man immediately de- 
spatched it with a knife. We claimed a haunch for our 

share, permitting him to keep all the rest In 

the evening we arrived at B 's at the head of the Long 

Falls. A dirtier house was never seen. We dubbed it 
"The Tenrple of Dirt ;' but we contrived to have our ven- 
ison cooked in a cleanly manner by Mr. Ogden's servant, 
and it made very fine steaks, which after two days' living 
on crackers and gingerbread were highly acceptable. 

Friday, 13th — "We prepared to leave the Temple of 
Dirt, and set out about sixty miles through the woods 
to Oswegatchie. We ate an uncomfortable breakfast, 
for indeed it was impossible to relish anything in a 
house so completely filthy. The landlady herself was 
perfectly in character with the house ; a little squat 
Frenchwoman, with a red face, a black wool hat stuck 
upon her head, her hair greasy and uncombed, hang- 
ing about her ears, and the rest of her dress and per- 
son in similar style. We were heartily glad to make 
an escape." 

The journal omits to mention, that just before they 


started, the young traveller took out his pencil, and scrib- 
bled over the fire-place the following memorial : — 

" Here Sovereign Dirt erects her sable throne, 
The house, the host, the hostess, all her own." 

In a subsequent year, -when Mr. Hoffman was passing 
the same way with Judge Cooper, the father of the dis- 
tinguished novelist, James Fenimore Cooper, he pointed 
out this memento of his student, still undetected and 
uneffaced ; whereupon the Judge, whose longer experi- 
ence in frontier travel had probably raised him above 
the qualms of over-nicety, immediately wrote under it 
this doggerel inculcation : — 

'C>O v 

" Learn hence, young man, and teach it to your sons, 
The wisest way 's to take it as it comes." 

They set off again " in caravan style," two wagons for 
themselves, and another, drawn by oxen, for the lug- 
gage. They found the road dreadfully rugged and miry. 
The horses could not go off a walk in any part. The 
road had not been made above a year, and the stumps 
and roots of trees stood in every direction. At night 
they put up at a small hut consisting of but one room, 
which, however, the hostess, by the sagacious expedieut 
of stretching a long blanket across, managed to divide 
into two. " On one side," says the journal, " we spread 
our mattress for the ladies, and great-coats, blankets, etc., 


for ourselves. The other side was left for the drivers, 

The next day the wagon in which Irving and some of 
the ladies were riding stuck fast, and one of the horses 
laid down, and refused to move. They had therefore to 
get out and travel after the other wagon, into which the 
ladies mounted ; but soon that also mired, and there was 
no alternative but for them to take to their feet. " The 
rain by this time," proceeds the journal, " descended in 
torrents. In several parts of the road I had been up to 
my middle in mud and water, and it was equally bad, if 
not worse, to attempt to walk in the woods on either 

" We helped the ladies to a little shed of bark laid on 
crotches, about large enough to hold three, where they 
sat down. It had been a night's shelter to some hunter, 
but in this case it afforded no protection. One-half of it 
fell down as we were creeping under it, and though we 
spread great-coats over the other, they might as well have 
been in the open air. The rain now fell in the greatest 
quantity I had ever seen. 

" The wind blew a perfect hurricane. The trees around 
shook and bent in the most alarming manner, and threat- 
ened every moment to fall and crush us The 

ladies were in the highest state of alarm, and entreated 
that we should walk to a house which we were told was 
about half a mile distant." 

They therefore dragged along, and after a most painful 


walk arrived at the hut, which consisted of one room 
about eighteen by sixteen feet. In this small apartment, 
fifteen people were to pass the night ; for besides the 
owner, they found here two men who were driving an ox- 
team through to Oswegatchie, both noisy and boisterous, 
and one of them stigmatized in the journal as " the most 
impudent, chattering, forward scoundrel " the writer had 
ever known. There was much noisy greeting between 
these and the drivers, and, to add to the confusion of 
the scene, they soon seated themselves in a corner and 
"began to play cards for liquor;" an amusement from 
which they retired after a while almost intoxicated, and 
stretched themselves on the floor to sleep. " I never," 
says the journal, " passed so dreary a night in my life. 
The rain poured down incessantly, and I was frequently 
obliged to hold up an umbrella to prevent its beating 
through the roof on the ladies as they slept. I was 
awake almost all night, and several times heard the 
crash of the falling trees, and two or three times the 
long dreary howl of a wolf." 

On resuming their route the next day, they found it 
impossible to travel the road with horses, and they were 
therefore compelled to engage the men to take their bag- 
gage through in their ox-cart, while the ladies rode in 
the ox-wagon which had hitherto held their luggage, and 
the gentlemen proceeded on foot. 

Two days more of the same forlorn travel, through 
deep mudholes, over stumps and stones, obliged at times 
VOL. 1. — 4 


to cut their way through fallen trees, and resting at night 
in the same wretched hovels, brought them at last in 
sight of Oswegatchie. The journal says : " The prospect 
that opened upon us was delightful. After riding 
through thick woods for several days, .... the sight 
of a beautiful and extensive tract of country is inconceiv- 
ably enlivening. Close beside the bank on which we 
rode, the Oswegatchie wound along, about twenty feet 
below us. After running for some distance, it entered 
into the St. Lawrence, forming a long point of land on 
which stood a few houses called the ' Garrison,' which 
had formerly been a fortified place built by the French 
to keep the Indians in awe. They were now tumbling in 
ruins, excepting two or three, which were still kept in 
tolerable order by Judge Ford, who resided in one of 
them, and used the others as stores and out-houses. "We 
recrossed the Oswegatchie Biver to the Garrison, as we 
intended to reside with Judge Ford for some time." 

The interval spent by the young traveller on the St. 
Lawrence was divided between Oswegatchie, Lisbon, one 
of Mr. Hoffman's townships, ten or twelve miles further 
down the river, and Madrid, at a still greater distance, 
where lay the lands of Mr. Ogden. His sports would 
seem to have been fishing and shooting, while in the last 
entry but one of his journal, which breaks off at this 
point, we have this hint of recreation of another kind : — 

August 29th. — "Hired a horse to take me to Lisbon, 
where Mr. Hoffman was. Arrived about one o'clock, and 


found him surrounded by tenants, and hard at work. 
Amused myself the rest of the day writing bonds and 

It was at Lisbon that he encountered his first rude 
experience of savage life. I give the anecdote as I have 
heard it from himself. He was staying at the house of 
Mr. Turner, Mr. Hoffman's agent, with whose son he had 
rowed to a small island to hire a bateau to take the trav- 
ellers down the river. At the wigwam where they ex- 
pected to engage the boat, they found a number of per- 
sons of both sexes, but the Indian of whom they were in 
quest was absent selling furs. He soon came home, how- 
ever, rather tipsy, accompanied by his wife, a pretty- 
looking squaw, whose potations also had been somewhat 
liberal. The latter seated herself beside Irving, and, 
either attracted by his personal appearance, or hoping to 
cajole from him a fresh draught of the fiery beverage, 
began to show him much flattering attention. The hus- 
band, a tall, strapping Hercules, sat scowling at them 
with his blanket drawn up to his chin and his face be- 
tween his hands, while his elbows rested on his knees. 
In this posture he watched the pair for some time, until 
at length the continued assiduities of his wife becoming 
too much for his patience, he suddenly rushed upon 
Irving, calling him a " damned Yankee," and with a blow 
leveled him to the floor. Taken by surprise, and utterly 
unconscious of offense, the young traveller jumped up, 
and asked the meaning of this strange salutation. " He 


is jealous," hinted one of the company. Perceiving that 
he was feeling for his knife, Irving, retreating, requested 
the men to hold the savage, evidently maddened by drink, 
and young Turner immediately went up to him, when a 
sudden revulsion of feeling ensued. Ho and the Indian 
had exchanged names, and were therefore sworn friends. 
The savage hugged him in his arms, called him "good 
fellow " and other endearing names ; " but he," said he, 
glaring again with eyes of ominous ferocity at his com- 
panion, "he — damned Yankee." Apprehending further 
violence, Turner intimated to Irving that he had better 
escape to the boat, and he would follow — which he was 
glad enough to do. 

This adventure was a capital joke for Hoffman, who 
was never weary of quizzing his student on the subject of 
his delicate attentions to the squaw. 

Proceeding in their bateau to Montreal, the party 
stopped at Caughnawaga, where they were received in 
great state by the Indians. Here Hoffman, in a spirit of 
frolic, persuaded them to go through the ceremonial of 
exchanging names with Irving, or of giving him a name — to 
the great annoyance of the former, and the infinite diver- 
sion of the ladies, who stood at the door enjoying the 
scene with undisguised unction. The ceremony was 
novel, and to the object of it extremely embarrassing, as 
one of the chiefs or principal Indians took him by the 
hand, led him out in the middle of the room, then com- 
menced a sort of Indian waltz, turning slowly round with 


him to a low chant, while the others would look gravely 
on, and every now and then strike in with a monosyl- 
labic chorus, " Ugh ! ugh ! " The solemn gravity of the 
Indians and the merriment of the lookers-on formed 
quite a ludicrous contrast. The chant concluded, the 
chief made him a formal and deferential speech, and 
gave him his name, which was Vomonte, meaning, as 
interpreted to him, Good to everybody. 

It was now Irving's turn to have his fun, and as soon 
as the Indian had concluded, he told him he had made a 
great mistake in conferring this distinction on him ; that 
he was but an insignificant individual to be so highly 
honored; but that the other, pointing to Hoffman, had 
been Attorney-general of the State of New York, and was 
much more worthy of this great distinction than himself ; 
that he would feel it an abatement of his dignity if they 
honored an obscure stripling in this way, and passed by 
so illustrious a personage. 

Nothing would do, therefore, but they must march 
Hoffman out, and go through the same parade with him, 
to the great amusement of the ladies, and the irrepressi- 
ble glee of Irving, who had felt too keenly the rueful 
dignity of the situation in his own case, not to enjoy it 
with the highest relish when the tables were turned. 
Hoffman's name was Citrovani, or Shining Man. 

At Montreal, which was the great emporium of the 
fur trade, the party was feted in genial style by some of 
the partners of the Northwest Fur Company. " At their 


hospitable board," says Mr. Irving, in his introduction to 
Astoria, including in his allusion two later visits, " I oc- 
casionally met partners and clerks and hardy fur traders 
from the interior posts ; men who had passed years re- 
mote from civilized society, among distant and savage 
tribes, and who had wonders to recount of their wide 
and wild jDeregrinations, their hunting exploits, and 
their perilous adventures and hair -breadth escapes 
among the Indians. I was at an age when the imagi- 
nation lends its coloring to everything, and the stories of 
these Sindbads of the wilderness made the life of a trap- 
per and fur trader perfect romance to me." 

Here he made the acquaintance of his life-long friend, 
Henry Brevoort, a native and resident of New York, but 
then on a visit of business or pleasure to Montreal. 

It was not until a lapse of fifty years that Mr. Irving 
made a second visit to Oswegatchie, now Ogdensburg ; 
and I cannot resist the temptation to take from its place 
the letter which gives the touching contrast. On a re- 
turn from a tour by the Lakes to Niagara, he writes to a 
niece at Paris (Mrs. Storrow) : — 

September, 19, 1853. 
One of the most interesting circumstances of my tour was the sojouni 
of a day at Ogdensburg, at the mouth of the Oswegatchie River, where it 
empties into the St. Lawrence. I had not been there since I visited it 
fifty years since, in 1803, when I was but twenty years of age ; when I 
made an expedition through the Black River country to Canada in com- 
pany with Mr. and Mrs. Hoffman, and Ann Hoffman, Mr. and Mrs. 


Ludlow Ogden, and Miss Eliza Ogden. Mr. Hoffman and Mr. Ogden 
were visiting their wild lands on the St. Lawrence. All the country then 
was a wilderness ; we floated down the Black River in a scow ; we toiled 
through forests in wagons drawn by oxen ; we slept in hunters' cabins, 
and were once four-and-twenty hours without food ; but all was romance 
to me. 

Arrived on *he banks of the St. Lawrence, we put up at Mr. Ogden's 
agent, who was quartered in some rude buildings belonging to a ruined 
French fort at the mouth of the Oswegatchie. What happy days I passed 
there ! rambling about the woods with the young ladies ; or paddlin^ 
with them in Indian canoes on the limpid waters of the St. Lawrence ; 
or fishing about the rapids and visiting the Indians, who still lived on 
islands in the river. Everything was so grand and so silent and solitary. 
I don't think any scene in life made a more delightful impression upon 

Well— here I was again after a lapse of fifty years. I found a popu- 
lous city occupying both banks of the Oswegatchie, connected by bridges. 
It was the Ogdensburg, of which a village plot had been planned at the 
time of our visit. I sought the old French fort where we had been quar- 
tered—not a trace of it was left. I sat under a tree on the site and looked 
round upon what I had known as a wilderness— now teeming with life — 
crowded with habitations — the Oswegatchie River dammed up and en- 
cumbered by vast stone-mills— the broad St. Lawrence ploughed by im- 
mense steamers. 

I walked to the point, where, with the two girls, I used to launch forth 
in the canoe, while the rest of the party would wave handkerchiefs, and 
cheer us from shore ; it was now a bustling landing-place for steamers. 
There were still some rocks where I used to sit of an evening and accom- 
pany with my flute one of the ladies who sang. I sat for a long time on 
the rocks, summoning recollections of bygone days, and of the happy 
beings by whom I was then surrounded ; all had passed away— all were 
dead and gone ; of that young and joyous party I was the sole survivor ; 
they had all lived quietly at home out of the reach of mischance, yet had 
gone down to their graves ; while I, who had been wandering about tha 


world, exposed to all hazards by sea and land, was yet alive. It seemed 
almost marvelous. I have often, in my shifting about the world, come 
upon the traces of former existence ; but I do not think anything has 
made a stronger impression on me than this second visit to the banks of 
the Oswegatchie. 



iE. IRVING came of age on the third of April, 

The delicate state of his health at this time 
began to awaken the solicitude of his family, and the 
father, now paralytic, having retired from business with 
a moderate independence, his brothers, animated by a 
common spirit, determined to send him on a voyage to 

" It is with delight," writes his brother William to him 
soon after his departure, " we share the world with you ; 
and one of our greatest sources of happiness is that for- 
tune is daily putting it in our power thus to add to the 
comfort and enjoyment of one so very near to us all." 

William was the third child of his parents, and the 
oldest who lived to grow up. He was nearly seventeen 



years the senior of Washington, and there was something 
of the father mingled with the strong fraternal affection 
with which he regarded him. Of this brother, "Washing- 
ton remarks in one of his letters, "He was the man I 
most loved on earth," and his conversation would often 
turn on his rich mellow humor, his range of anecdote, 
his quick sensibility, and fine colloquial flow. 

On the 19th of May, he was helped up the side of the 
vessel, in which he had engaged his passage for Bor- 
deaux. The captain (Shaler) eyed him with a forebod- 
ing glance as he stepped upon the deck, and as he after- 
wards told him, said to himself, " There's a chap who 
will go overboard before we get across." Mr. Irving 
himself seems also at times to have had his fears that he 
was sinking by slow degrees to the grave. His emotions 
on leaving are described in a letter from Bordeaux to 
Alexander Beebee, one of his young friends. 

I felt heavy-hearted on leaving the city, as you may suppose ; but the 
severest moments of my departure were when I lost sight of the boat in 
which were my brothers who had accompanied me on board, and when 
the steeples of the city faded from my view. It seemed as if I had left 
the world behind me, and was cast among strangers without a f riend, 
sick and solitary. I looked around me, saw none but strange faces, heard 
nothing but a language I could not understand, and felt " alone amidst 
a crowd." I passed a melancholy, lonesome day, turned into my berth at 
night sick at heart, and laid for hours thinking of the friends I had left 

behind Had this unhappy mood held possession of me long, 

I do not know if I should not have been a meal for the sharks before I had 
made half the passage, but thanks to "the Fountain of health and good 


spirits," He has given me enough of the latter to brighten up my dullest 
moments. My home-sickness wore off by degrees ; I again looked for- 
ward with enthusiasm to the classic scenes I was to enjoy, the land of 
romance and inspiration I was to tread, and though New York and its 
inhabitants often occupied my thoughts, and constantly my dreams, yet 
there was no longer anything painful in the ideas they awakened. 

On the 25tli of June his vessel was quarantined at the 
mouth of the Gironde. From shipboard he writes to his 
brother William the next day : — 

My health is much better than when I left New York. I was but 
slightly sea-sick for about a day and a half on first coming out. The rest 
of the voyage I was tolerably well, except fevers that often troubled me 
at night. We were seventeen in the cabin besides the master and mates, 
and as I cannot speak very highly of the cleanliness of some of my fellow- 
passengers, you may suppose our nights were not over comfortable. I 
have often passed the greatest part of the night walking the deck. 

Our passage was what the sailors term " a lady's voyage," gentle and 
mild. We were tantalized, however, with baffling winds, particularly 
after entering the Bay of Biscay, where the wind came directly ahead. The 
first land we made, therefore, was Cape Penas, on the coast of Spain (on 
the 20th of the month). I cannot express the sensations I felt on first 
catching a glimpse of European land. 

In a postscript he adds : — 

The only news I have yet heard is, that Bonaparte is declared emperor 
of the Gauls — Moreau is banished two years to his estate in the country — 
Georges is shot— Pichegru has hung himself in prison, and preparations 
are still making for the invasion. 


In a letter a few days later to the same brother, he 
writes from Bordeaux : — 


On yesterday morning [Saturday, the 30th June] we arrived and dis* 
embarked at this port, after having been exactly six weeks on shipboard. 
I had begun to be considerably of a sailor before I left the ship. My 
round jacket and loose trousers were extremely convenient. I was quite 
expert at climbing to the mast-head and going out on the maintop-sail 

. . . . Even-thing is novel and interesting to me— the heavy 
Gothic-looking buildings — the ancient churches — the manners of the 
people, — it really looks like another world. 

In this city, where the young traveller remained sis 
weeks to improve himself in the language, he commenced 
a copious journal, which he continued with some inter- 
missions until his arrival in Paris in the following year. 
His plan in regard to it was to minute down notes in 
pencil in a small book, and extend them whenever he 
could seize a moment of leisure. This journal, his notes 
in pencil when the journal was suspended, and his letters 
to the family which are preserved, will enable us to ac- 
company him in his journeyings. I shall have but par- 
tial recourse to the journal, however, and confine myself 
mainly to such selections from his letters as may serve 
to illustrate his life and personal adventures, and give 
his character a chance to unfold itself; omitting alto- 
gether, or retrenching largely from the descriptions of 
scenery and places with which they abound, and other 
particulars which would be minute or tedious, and add- 
ing here and there such anecdotes worthy of note as do 
not appear in either, but have been gathered from his 
own lips. 


On the 5th of August, Irving set out in the diligence 

from Bordeaux. The company presented a curious "jum- 
ble of character " — a little opera singer, with her father 
and mother, who were returning to Toulouse after a short 
visit to Bordeaux ; a young officer, not much older than 
himself, going to see his mother in Languedoc ; and a 
French gentleman, who had some knowledge of English, 
and had just returned from a voyage round the world. 
But the most amusing personage was a little American 
doctor, full of whim and eccentricity, who had taken 
passage in the cabriolet, a seat in front of the diligence, 
and who is thus introduced in the journal, which records 
the fact, that after breakfast on the morning of the 6th, the 
writer exchanged places with a Frenchman who was seated 
in the cabriolet, to obtain a better view of the luxuriant 
and enchanting country through which he was passing. 

In this place [says the journal], I found a singular little genius, quite 
an original — his name was Henry, a doctor of medicine, originally of 
Lancaster, in Pennsylvania ; by his talk he appears to have been for a 
long time a citizen of the world. He is about five feet four inches high, 
and thick-set ; talks French fluently, and has an eternal tongue. He 
knew everybody of consequence — ambassadors, consuls, etc., were Tom- 
Dick-and-Harry, intimate acquaintances. The Abbe Winkleman had 
given him a breast-pin ; Lavater had made him a present of a snuff-box, 
and several authors had sent him their works to read and criticise. 

Whenever the diligence stopped in any of the towns to change horses, 
etc. [he writes in a letter to his brother William], we generally strolled 
through the streets talking to every one we met. We found the women 
very frequently seated at the doors at work, and they were always ready 


to enter into conversation. The lower ciass throughout this part of 
France speak a villainous jargon, termed patois, composed of a jumble of 
Italian, French, and Spanish, so that I found it difficult to understand 
them, though I can make them understand me very readily. In one of 
our strolls in the town of Tonneins, we entered a house where a number 
of girls were quilting. They gave me a needle, and set me to work. My 
bad French seemed to give them much amusement, as I talked contin- 
ually. They asked me several questions; as I could not understand them, 
I made them any answer that came into my head, which caused a great 
deal of laughter amongst them. At last the little Doctor told them that 
I was an English prisoner, whom the young French officer (who was with 
us) had in custody. Their merriment immediately gave place to pity. 
"Ah ! le pauvre garcon," said one to another; "he is merry, however, in 
all his trouble." "And what will they do with him ?" said a young 
woman to the voyageur. "0, nothing of consequence," replied he; 
' ' perhaps shoot him, or cut off his head." The honest souls seemed quite 
distressed for me, and when I mentioned that I was thirsty, a bottle of 
wine was immediately placed before me, nor could I prevail on them to 
take a recompense. In short, I departed, loaded with their good wishes 
and benedictions, and I suppose furnished a theme of conversation 
throughout the village. 

The kind-hearted creatures not only brought him wine, 
but obliged him to fill his pockets with fruit. Some of 
them got round the young officer to intercede in his be- 
half, and to charge him to be kind to him. 

The incident here related seems to have left so durable 
an impression on the fancy of the pretended prisoner, 
that long years afterwards, in 1845, when Minister to 
Spain and on his way from Madrid to Paris, we find him 
diverging from his route expressly to revisit this scene 
of his youthful travel. 


In a letter to his sister, Mrs. Paris, dated Paris, No- 
vember 1, 1845, lie writes : — 

My visit to Tonneins, and the banks of the Garonne, was induced 
by recollections of my youthful days. On my first visit to Europe, when 
I was but about twenty-one years of age, my first journey was up along 
the banks of this river on my way to Montpellier ; and the scenery of it 
remained in my memory with all the magic effects of first impressions. 

Then after recounting the incident as given in his early 
letter, and adding, " it was a shame to leave them with 
such painful impressions," he proceeds : — 

The recollections of this incident induced me to shape my course so as 
to strike the river just at this little town. A beautiful place it is ; sit- 
uated on a high cote, commanding a wide view of the Garonne and the 
magnificent and fertile region through which it flows. I found all my 
early impressions of the beauty of the scenery fully justified, and almost 
felt a kindling of the youthful romance with which I once gazed upon it. 
As my carriage rattled through the quiet streets of Tonneins, and the 
postilion smacked his whip with the French love of racket, I looked out 
for the house where, forty years before, I had seen the quilting party. I 
believe I recognized the house ; and I saw two or three old women, who 
might once have formed part of the merry group of girls ; but I doubt 
whether they recognized in the stout elderly gentleman, thus rattling in 
his carriage through their streets, the pale young English prisoner of forty 
years since. 

The little Doctor had an incessant flow of spirits, and 
was continually creating whimsical scenes and incidents 
throughout the journey. 

In another town [says a further extract from the letter to his brother 
William], he took the landlady aside, told her I was a young Mameluke 


of distinction, travelling incog., and that he was my interpreter ; asked 
her to bring me a large chair that I might sit cross-legged, after the man- 
ner of my country, and desired a long pipe for me that I might smoke 
perfumes. The good woman believed every word, said she had no large 
chair, but she could place two chairs for me ; and as to a pipe, she had 
none longer than was generally used by the country people. The Doctor 
said that would not do, and since she could not furnish the articles, she 
might bring a bottle of her best wine with good bread and cheese, and 
we would eat breakfast. 

The Doctor, who was " a continual fund of amusement 
to him," he also found an "excellent hand," as an old 
traveller, in protecting him from imposition, so that 
when any unreasonable demand "was made upon me," 
he writes, " I pretended not to understand and turned 
them over to him ; by this means I escaped much trou- 
ble, and the Doctor was highly pleased with his employ- 

At Meze, " a small town, beautifully situated on the 
sea-shore," he parted with this eccentric genius, who, in 
bidding him good-by, told him when next they met he 
might probably find him a conjurer or High German 

It was not long before he missed the services of his 
amusing companion, for he had no sooner stopped at 
Montpellier than he was assailed by a regiment of por- 
ters, two of whom seized his trunk and brought it to his 

One of them [says the journal], I paid amply ; the other insisted on a 


gratuity, and was so clamorous, that I had to bundle him head and heels 
out of the door, and slammed it to, telling him to go and divide the spoils 
with his brother vagabond. 

This summary method of settling with the persistent 
porter affords a characteristic illustration of the travel- 
ler's nervous impetuosity under annoyance. " You have 
a little of the family impatience," says an admonitory 
passage in one of his brother William's letters. It was 
a peculiarity which all the children inherited in greater 
or less degree from the mother. 

But his protector is soon back again. On returning at 
night from the theatre to the inn, says a letter to his 
brother, " I was surprised to find the little Doctor at the 
hotel. He had despatched his business at Cette, and in- 
tends going on to Nice. I shall travel in company with 
him, and by that means be protected from extortion. I 
find he is a more important character than I at first sup- 

On the 16th, early in the morning, he set off in a voi- 
ture with the Doctor for Nismes, and arrived in the even- 
ing. Here, where his curiosity and admiration were 
strongly excited by the Roman antiquities of the place, 
he began to have misgivings about the sufficiency of his 

By some conversation [says the journal], I had with Dr. Henry, I had 

got quite out of conceit of my American protection ; it was in writing 

from the mayor in New York, and he said it was a chance if any of the 

French officers of police would be able to read it, or would know whether 

vol. i. — 5 


to give credence to the signature of the mayor or not. My French pass- 
port also gave a very poor description of me ; and as I was continually 
mistaken on the road for an Englishman, I began to apprehend I might 
get into some disagreeable situation with the police, before I could reach 
Marseilles. I was much startled, therefore, while sitting at supper with 
several others in the hotel, at the entry of two or three officers of the 
police with a file of soldiers. They only came, however, to examine our 
passports, and they passed over mine very lightly. 

The traveller would seem to have had two passports 
from the city of Bordeaux, one from the Police, the other 
from the Chancellerie. A comparison of the description 
given of him in each, discloses some discrepancies, es- 
pecially as to the color of his eyes, which is described 
as blue in one and gray in the other. Their actual color 
was sometimes a moot point among his friends. " Nose 
long," " nose middling," " forehead high," " forehead mid- 
dling," mark a further disagreement, though more easily 

At Nismes he parted once more with the little Doctor, 
who was so unwell that he determined to return to Mont- 
pellier, and endeavor to proceed from Cette by water. 

After staying two days at Nismes [says a letter to his brother William], 
I set off for Avignon, full of enthusiasm at the thoughts of visiting the 

* I give the entire passports in translation : — 

Chancellerie. — Hair chestnut— eyebrows do.— eyes gray— nose long — 
mouth middling — chin large — forehead middling— face oblong — height 
5 feet 7 inches. 

Police. — Hair and eyebrows chestnut— eyes blue— nose middling — mouth 
middling— chin round — forehead high — face oval. 


tomb of Laura, and of wandering amid the wild retreats and romantic 
solitudes of Vaueluse. 

The sun was setting when he caught his first view of 
the city of classic immortality, and the next morning he 
rose early, and, to resume with the letter, — 

Inquired for the Church of Cordeliers that contained the tomb of the 
belle Laura. Judge my surprise, my disappointment, and my indigna- 
tion, when I was told that the church, tomb, and all, were utterly de- 
molished in the time of the revolution. Never did the revolution, its 
authors and its consequences, receive a more hearty and sincere execra- 
tion than at that moment. Throughout the whole of my journey I had 
found reason to exclaim against it for depriving me of some valuable 
curiosity or celebrated monument, but this was the severest disappoint- 
ment it had yet occasioned I had calculated much upon 

visiting Yaucluse, but had most reluctantly to abandon the idea. It 
would have taken me two days to go there and return to Avignon. My 
passport mentioned that I was to go directly to Marseilles, which I was 
told was something particular. I had been continually mistaken on the 
road for an Englishman, and there were one or two spies of the police 
keeping a strict watch on me while at Avignon. To have set off for 
Yaucluse might therefore have occasioned an arrest, and as I could not 
understand the patois which is spoken throughout these parts, I might 
have been involved in vexatious difUculties, so that I had to deny myself 
the gratification. One of the spies paid me a visit, incog. ; I however 
discovered him by a ribbon he wore under his coat, and as I was not in 
the best of humors, I gave him a reception so dry and ungracious, that I 
believe he was glad to make his conge. 

He spoke a little English, and introduced himself by asking, in a care- 
less manner, if I was from England. I said I was from America. 
"From what part of America, if he might take the liberty to ask?" 
"From North America." The dry, laconic manner in which this was 


given, rather disconcerted him — he soon recovered. " Perhaps Monsieur 
experienced some vexations in travelling, from resembling so much an An- 
glois." " No— not much — though I was sometimes subjected to imperti- 
nent intrusions ! " "Hem — hah — Monsieur, sans doute, took care always 
to be provided with good passports," — no answer. "Because, Monsieur 
must know, the police was very strict in the interior, and had a sharp look- 
out on every stranger." "Yes, Monsieur," said I, turning pretty short 
upon him, "I know very well the strictness of your police, the constant 
watch they keep on the actions of strangers, and the spies with which an 
unfortunate devil of a traveller is continually surrounded. Above all des- 
picable scoundrels I despise a spy most superlatively — a wretch that in- 
trudes himself into the company of an unwary traveUer, endeavors to pry 
into his affairs, and gain his confidence only to betray him ; such creatures 
should be flogged out of society, and their employers meet with the con- 
tempt they merit for using such ungenerous means." The poor chap 
shrugged his shoulders, bit his nails, shifted his seat, and when I had fin- 
ished, replied that all that I had said was very true; the police were very 
wrong, their regulations very vexatious, that he had thought proper as I 
was a stranger to give me a hint or two, hoped I might have a good jour- 
ney, and wished me a good-day. I heard him diable-ing to himself all 
the way down stairs, and meeting the master of the hotel at the foot he 
exclaimed in a half loud tone, " Je crois il est veritablement un Anglois." 
In the evening the master of the hotel required my passport to show to 
the police; it was returned to me without any further trouble, and I was 
permitted to resume my journey without interruption. 

At Marseilles, where lie spent three weeks, the ubiq- 
uitous Doctor turns up again. 

I was agreeably surprised the other evening [says the journal], on re- 
turning to the hotel from a promenade, to find Dr. Henry quietly seated 
in the parlor. It seemed as if the little man had dropped from the clouds, 
for I had supposed him still at Cette. He told me he had reached there 


the day after he parted with mo at Nismes, but found that no vessel 
would sail in less than two months, as they would not have a convoy be- 
fore that time. His complaint increasing, he determined once more to 
try the journey by land, and, after divers misfortunes, the carriage over- 
turning, etc., he arrived safe at Marseilles. His health is better at pres- 
ent, Ms spirits have returned, and he is again as merry as a cricket. 

On the 10th of September he left Marseilles in com- 
pany with Dr. Henry, having engaged a carriage to take 
them to Nice. The inns on the road are described in 
the journal as miserable. " Dirt, noise, and insolence 
reigned without control. The custom of piling manure 
up against their houses, which was used to fertilize the 
country, was destructive to comfort." In a letter to his 
brother William, he remarks : — 

Fortunately for me, I am seasoned, in some degree, to the disagreeables 
from my Canada journey of last summer. When I enter one of these 
inns, to put up for the night, I have but to draw a comparison between it 
and some of the log hovels into which my fellow-travellers and myself 
were huddled, after a fatiguing day's journey through the woods, and 
the inn appears a palace. For my part, I endeavor to take things as 
they come, with cheerfulness, and when I cannot get a dinner to suit 
my taste, I endeavor to get a taste to suit my dinner. 

And he adds : — 

There is nothing I dread more than to be taken for one of the Smell- 
fungi of this world. I therefore endeavor to be pleased with everything 
about me, and with the masters, mistresses, and servants of the inns, 
particularly when I perceive they have "ail the dispositions in the 


world" to serve me ; as Sterne says, "It is enough for heaven and 
ought to be enough for me." 

On the evening of the 13th September the travellers 
arrived at Nice. 

Thus [says he in the letter before quoted], having happily accomplished 
my journey through the South of France, I felicitated myself with the 
idea that nothing remained but to step into a felucca and be gently 
wafted to the classic shore of Italy ! Little did I think of being per- 
suaded by the police to defer my departure and take time to enjoy the 
climate and prospects of Nice. The next morning I waited on the 
municipality to deliver my passport and request another for Genoa. 
Monsieur Le Secretaire-general perused my passport, and told me it 
was not in his power to grant me permission to depart — that my pass- 
port was such as is given to suspected persons, and that I must rest 
here contented until a better passport was sent on, or a permission from 
the Grand Judge at Paris authorizing my departure. This speech ab- 
solutely struck me dumb. The Doctor, however, who was with me and 
could speak French far more fluently than I, took up my cause. He rep- 
resented to the Secretary-general my situation : young, inexperienced, 
for the first time separated from my family, in a foreign land and igno- 
rant of the language, a vile passport had been given to me, and I, igno- 
rant of the forms of the police, had taken it as one of the same kind that 
was generally given to my countrymen. That now I would be detained 
among strangers, not understanding their language, out of health, soli- 
tary (as his affairs obliged him to set off immediately for Italy). In short, 
I cannot repeat one half of the distresses, the calamities, and the bug- 
bears that the Doctor summoned to his assistance to render his harangue 
as moving as possible. The Secretary-general assured him that he felt 
for my situation, but it was absolutely out of his power to allow me to 
proceed— that he was amenable to superior authority, and dared not in- 
dulge his inclination, and that something suspicious in my deportment 


or affairs must certainly have occasioned this precaution in the munici- 
pality of Bordeaux. The Doctor assured him that it was a mistake. 
He had travelled with me all along, and would swear, would pledge hid 
person, his property, his all, for my being a citizen of the United States, 
and that nothing had occurred either in my deportment or conversation 
that merited suspicion. In short, he manifested the most friendly zeal 
and earnestness in my cause, and said everything he could think of to ob- 
tain my passport. It was all in vain. The Secretary repeated it was out 
of his power to grant it, or he would with the sincerest pleasure, but that 
he would write to the Commissary-general of Police at Marseilles, inclos- 
ing my passport, and requesting another that should enable me to pro- 
ceed ; in the meantime he would give me a letter of surety that granted 
me the liberty of the place without being subject to molestation from po- 
lice officers, Having received this we withdrew, thanking him for the 
politeness he had shown. By the Doctor's advice I immediately wrote to 
Mr. Schwartz and our consul at Marseilles, requesting them to represent 
my case to the Com. -general and endeavor to have a good passport sent on 
immediately, or if there was no other way, to reclaim me as an American 
citizen. I have written to Dr. Ellison and our consul, Mr Lee, at Bor- 
deaux, requesting them to take the same measures there, and as Dr. 
Henry was to depart from here for Genoa in two days, I wrote by him to 
Hall Storm to get our consul there to reclaim me. Dr. Henry has prom- 
ised to do all in his power to forward the business in that quarter, so I 
think it will be hard if there does not come relief from one quarter or 

Hall Storm, here mentioned, was a native of New 
York, established in business at Genoa, and then acting 
as vice-consul. He had been an early playmate of Mr. 
Irving, though somewhat his senior. 



CONTINUE my extracts from the letter last 
quoted, to his brother William. 

The next day [15th September], I was lying down after 
dinner, when I was suddenly awakened by the noise of some persons 
entering my chamber, and found an officer of the police and the Doctor 
standing before me. He had come to demand my papers to carry before 
the mayor, for particular reasons. The Doctor told me not to disturb 
myself, that he would accompany the man and learn what was the cause 
of this visit. In about half an hour I heard him coming up stairs hum- 
ming a tune in a voice something like that of Tom Pipes — between a 
screech and a whistle. He entered my room with a furious countenance, 
flung himself into a chair, and stopping all at once in the middle of his 
tune, began to curse the police in the most voluble manner, nor could I 
get a word of intelligence out of him until he had consigned them all to 
purgatory. He then let me know that we had been dogged about by some 
scoundrel of a spy who had denounced me as an Englishman, which had 
occasioned the demand of my papers. He told me he had been before 
the Adjoint of the mayor, who spoke English and was very polite ; that 
he had represented my situation to him, and had told him that he would 
bring me before him, and if he did not at once see by my counter ..nee 



that I was an honest man, incapable of deceit, he would himself pledge 
both his property and his person that I would prove so in the end. I 
accordingly accompanied the Doctor before the Adjoint. The latter re- 
ceived me very politely ; as he spoke English I simply stated the circum- 
stances of my case, but he told me that it was unnecessary ; he was con- 
vinced of the folly of the suspicions that had been indulged against me, 
and assured me that while I remained in Nice my tranquillity should not 
be again disturbed. Having received my papers we withdrew. On the 
17th, the Doctor set off in a felucca for Genoa, and though I was sorry to 
part with a man whose company was so amusing and who had proved 
himself sincerely my friend, yet I could not but be pleased on one ac- 
count, as it would facilitate my own departure, for I look chiefly to Genoa 
for effectual assistance. 

Sept. 26. — I have just received two or three letters ; to express to you 
the revolution of feelings they occasioned is impossible. They were put 
into my hands by the maitre d'hotel just as I returned from one of my 
solitary morning rambles on the sea-shore, where I had been wistfully 
contemplating the ocean, and wishing myself on its bosom in full sail to 
Italy. The first packet was from my indefatigable friend, Dr. Henry, in- 
closing a letter from Hall Storm, and a reclamation from our consul, and 
all within twenty-four hours after his arrival. As to the letter from Storm, 
it breathes all the warmth and openness of heart that distinguishes that 
worthy fellow. 

. . . . I have also received a packet from our consul at Marseilles, 
inclosing a letter to the Prt-fet of Nice, representing my case and urging 
him to give me a passport for Italy. Thus you see the prospect is opened. 
I have but to go to the municipality, get a passport, etc., and then away 
to Italy and Hall Storm ! 

Evening. — Such were the enlivening ideas of this morning, and with a 
light heart I danced attendance on the Secretary-general five or six times 
in the course of the day. At last I had the good fortune to have my 
paper carried either before him or the Prefet by one of the head clerks, 
and after waiting in sanguine expectation of a passport being ordered 
me, I was greeted with the cheering intelligence that I must rest here 


still for four or five days till they received an answer to a letter that had 
been written to the Commissary-general of Marseilles. What this answer 
is, or of what importance it is, I neither know nor care ; it is sufficient 
for me to know that I am in their power, and that it is needless to com • 
plain— patience par force is my motto. [The journal says, "I never 
wanted a knowledge of the language so much as when the clerk brought 
this answer ; I fairly gasped for words. As it w T as, I gave him my senti- 
ments pretty roundly in the best French I could muster."] 

Tlie letter continues : — 

I was promised that I should be forwarded with pleasure when a rec- 
lamation arrived from Genoa, and now that I have a reclamation sup- 
ported by a letter from our consul at Marseilles, I am still detained ; and 
shall be obliged to dance attendance on these scoundrels, I do not know 
how much longer ; I have felt what it is to have to deal with Dogs in 
office, and can say with Swift : — 

" Ye gods ! if there's a man I ought to hate, 
Attendance and dependence be his fate." 

October 14. — Upwards of two weeks have elapsed since the above was 
written— the time in that interval has dragged on without anything par- 
ticular to vary its monotony. I have been made the sport of promises 
and evasions by the police, who pretend that they are unable to give me 
a passport, notwithstanding the reclamation, etc. ; that they must have 
authority from Paris, though they have not taken the trouble to write to 
Paris. Fortunately, however, I wrote to Mr. Lee, our consid at Bor- 
deaux, when I was first detained ; he immediately wrote to our minister 
at Paris, in my favor, in consequence of which I received a very polite 
letter from Robert L. Livingston, Esq., son-in-law of the minister, in- 
forming me that the minister had received the account of my situation 
from Mr. Lee, and immediately had sent a passport to the Grand Judge 
for his signature, and that it would most probably come on by the same 
mail, at furthest by the mail ensuing. 


The promised passport arrived on the 16th, and the 
next morning, after a tedious detention of five weeks, he 
set sail in a felucca for Genoa coasting along near th 3 
land, for fear of the privateers that infested the Mediter- 
ranean, and in the evening putting into the towns to pass 
the night. At one place near Alberga the felucca had 
receded beyond her usual distance from the shore, when 
a small vessel that lay under an island fired a gun ahead 
of them on suspicion of her being a privateer. 

" Our padrone," says the journal, " immediately dis- 
played the Genoese flag, and hailed the vessel. Either 
they did not see or hear him, or their suspicions were 
very strong, for they fired another shot at us, wdrich 
whistled just over our heads. Towards evening the 
breeze died away, and the men had to take to their oars. 
It was a bright moonlight, and the sound of a convent 
bell from among the mountains would now and then 
salute their ears, and immediately the rowers would 
rest on their oars, pull off their caps, and offer up their 

They passed the night at Savona, and the next day en- 
tered the harbor of Genoa, where he met with a most 
cordial and open-hearted reception from his friend 
Storm, with whom he took up his quarters in the wing 
of an old palace. The pleasure of this meeting was no 
doubt wonderfully heightened by his long and friendless 
solitude at Nice. In a letter to his young friend, John 
Furman, dated Genoa, October 24, 1804, he is almost at 


a loss to express Iris sense of the happiness of this meet- 
ing with an old comrade from New York. 

You [he says], who have never been from home in a land of strangers, 
and for some time without friends, cannot conceive the joy, the rapture 
of meeting with a favorite companion in a distant part of the world. 

Time passed rapidly and pleasantly with the young 
traveller at Genoa. 

I have now been in Genoa six weeks [he writes to William, November 
30th], and, so far from being tired of it, I every day feel more and more 
delighted with my situation, and unwilling to part. I cannot speak with 
sufficient warmth of the reception I have met with from Storm. We have 
scarcely been out of each other's sight all the time I have been here, and 
he has introduced me to the first society in Genoa, from whom I have 
received the most flattering attentions. 

Some weeks later we find him in the following letter 
still at Genoa, preparing to tear himself away from the 
friendly circle of acquaintance he had formed, and min- 
gle again among strangers. 

[To William Irving. J 

Genoa, December 20, 1804. 
Dear Brother :— 

I yesterday received your letter, and return you a thousand thanks for 
the length and minuteness of it. You cannot imagine how enlivening it 
was to me, and with what a greedy eye I read every line three or four 

. . . Part of your letter was written on the 25th of October, 
which was Jive days after I arrived in Genoa, and here it found me still 


It is a most fortunate thing that I received your letters before ray depart- 
ure, as they will influence me much in my route. You will be pleased 
to hear that your wish that I should visit Sicily will be fully gratified, 
and in a manner most convenient and agreeable to myself. I set sail to- 
morrow in the ship Matilda of Philadelphia, bound for Messina in Sicily, 
where she takes in a cargo of wines for America, The ship was formerly 
a Charleston packet, and has excellent accommodations. The captain is 
an honest, worthy, old gentleman, of the name of Strong. He is highly 
delighted with the thoughts of my going, has laid in excellent stores, pre- 
pared the best berth, and says he intends to make my passage as com- 
fortable as possible. Had not this opportunity offered, I would have been 
obliged to make a long roundabout tour by the way of Milan, Bologna, An- 
cona, etc., etc., to Rome, as all Tuscany is surrounded by cordones (lines of 
soldiers) where I should be detained, quarantined, smoked, and vinegared, 
and perhaps, after all, not have been suffered to pass 

I have been to-day to bid farewell to my Genoese friends, and a painful 
iask it was I assure you. The very particular attentions I have received 
here have rendered my stay delightful. I really felt as if at home, sur- 
rounded by my friends. Though my acquaintances were very numerous, 
I particularly confined my visits to three places, Lady Shaftesbury's, 
Madame Gabriac's, and Mrs. Bird's. From Lady Shaftesbury I have ex- 
perienced the most unreserved and cordial friendship. I visited her 
house every night, dined there freqiiently, and supped whenever 1 

Madame Gabriac's was another favorite visiting place. She is a lady 
of the first rank, and speaks English extremely well. We were always 
sure of a merry evening in her company, when she woidd discuss the 
fashionable intelligence of Genoa with a whim and humor peculiar to 
herself. She expressed the greatest regret at my departure, and furnishes 
me with a letter of introduction to her friend, the Marchesa Miranda at 
Florence, a lady of whom I have heard much, both for beauty and under- 

I dined to-day at Mrs. Bird's at Sestri, to bid her family farewell. I 
believe I have spoken before to you of this charming woman and her 


lovely daughters. We have spent several delightful days in their com- 
pany at Sestri, and received the most hospitable attentions 

I had nearly forgotten to mention to you that I was presented to the 
Doge on his levee night by his nephew, Signor Lerra, and had a very 
polite reception 

It is with the greatest uneasiness that I hear of the continued precari- 
ousness of sister Nancy's health. I wish to heaven I had her with me in 
these mild climates, where her feeble frame would soon recruit. The 
rude shocks of the western winters she has to encounter are too violent for 
a delicate constitution that is at the mercy of every breeze. For myself 
I am another being. Health has new strung my limbs, and endowed me 
with an elasticity of spirits that gilds every scene with sunshine and 
heightens every enjoyment. 

It was at Genoa that the traveller received a letter 
from his brother William, inclosing an official account of 
the sad duel in which Hamilton fell by the hand of Burr, 
and exhibiting a distressing picture of the political ex- 
citement which was then at its height in his native city. 
His reply gives, incidentally, an insight into his early 
political preferences ; while he regrets the rancorous 
height party animosity was attaining in the country, he 
speaks of himself as " an admirer of General Hamilton, 
and a partisan with him in politics." " My fellow-coun- 
trymen do not know the blessings they enjoy," he adds ; 
" they are trifling with their felicity, and are, in fact, 
themselves their worst enemies. I sicken when I think 
of our political broils, slanders, and enmities, and I 
think, when I again find myself in New York, I shall 
never meddle any more in politics." 


I close this chapter with his last lines from Genoa, in 
a letter to his brother William, already quoted in part. 

I am finishing this letter in the morning; the wind is fair, the day 
lovely, and everything appears to befriend me. I have to haste and pack 
up my trunk, so that I must tear myself away from the pleasure of writ- 
ing to you. In a little while I shall be once more on the ocean. I am 
a friend to that element, for it has hitherto used me well, and I shall feel 
quite at home on shipboard. 

You see I set off in high glee, though I expect to have a serious heart- 
ache when I lose sight of Genoa. 

Heaven bless you, my dear brother. 

W. L 



[To William Irving.] 

Ship Matixda, December 25, 1804. 
My dear Brother : — 

T N my last letter from Genoa, I mentioned that I was on the 
point of embarking with a fine wind and charming weather. 
1 was disappointed in the expectation. The wind blew too 
strong for the vessel to warp out of the harbor, and we were 
detained till the 23d, when we set sail at two o'clock with a brisk gale, 
and soon left sweet Genoa and all its friendly inhabitants behind us. [I 
remained (says the journal) alternately gazing upon Scstri and Genoa, 
till they faded in the distance, and evening veiled them even from the 
sight of the telescope.] The wind died away before evening, and the next 
day it sprung up ahead, where it has continued ever since, keeping us 

baffling about opposite Leghorn 

1 began this letter on Christmas-day — it is now the evening of the 
twenty-eighth; all this while have we been beating about in nearly the 
same place, among some small islands that he between Corsica and the 
Tuscan shore. There are three other passengers, Genoese captains of 
vessels, who speak French very well ; they sleep in the steerage, and leave 
me the cabin to myself. The captain is an honest, worthy old soul of a 
religious turn (though he never talks of religion), and violently smitten 
with an affection for lunar observations. The old gentleman has likewise 



an invincible propensity to familiarize the names of people; it is always 
Tom Truxton, Kit Columbus, and Jack Styles with him, and he cannot 
tell you the name of the author of a book without Jacking or Gilling him. 
He is extremely obliging and good-humored, and strives to render my 
situation as agreeable as possible. 

29th. — We have at length, to our great satisfaction, cleared the island 
of Elba, and are now passing between it and the island of Planosa. The 
latter is a place of shelter and ambuscade for small privateers that infest 
these parts, and lie in wait here to sally out on vessels as they pass. These 
little privateers are of the kind that seamen term pickaroons. They are 
unprincipled in their depredations, plundering from any nation. One of 
the Genoese captains assured me that they were worse than the Algerines 
or Tripolitans, as the latter nations only capture and make prisoners, 
whereas these villains often accompany their depredations with cruelty 
and murder, and have even been known to plunder the ship, sink her, 
and kill the crew to prevent discovery and punishment. They may be 
termed the banditti of the ocean, having very seldom any commission or 

oOth.—J was sitting in the cabin yesterday writing very tranquilly, 
when word was brought that a sail was seen coming off towards us from 
the island. The Genoese captain, after regarding it through a spy-glass, 
turned pale, and said it was one of those privateers of which he had been 
speaking to me. A moment after she fired a gun, upon which we hoisted 
the American flag. Another gun was fired, the ball of which passed be- 
tween the main and foremasts, and we immediately brought to. "We went 
to work directly to conceal any trifling articles of value that we had. As 
to myself, I put my letters of credit in my inside coat pocket, and gave 
two Spanish doubloons (which was all the cash I had), one to the cabin- 
boy, and the other to a little Genoese lad, to take care of for me, as it was 
not very probable that they woidd be searched. By this time the priva- 
teer had come within hail. She was quite small, about the size of one of 
our Staten Island ferry-boats, with lateen-sails, and two small guns in 
the bow. (As for us, we had not even a pistol on board.) They were 
under French colors, and hailing us, ordered the captain to come on 
vol. i. — 6 


board with his papers. He accordingly went, and after some time re- 
turned, accompanied by several of the privateersraen. One of them ap- 
peared to have command over the rest ; he was a tall, stout fellow, shab- 
bily dressed, without any coat, and his shirt sleeves rolled up to his 
elbows, displaying a formidably muscular pair of arms. His crew would 
have shamed Falstaff's ragged regiment in their habiliments, while their 
countenances displayed the strongest lines of villainy and rapacity. They 
carried rusty cutlasses in their hands, and pistols and stilettos were stuck 
in their belts and waistbands. After the leader had given orders to 
shorten sail, he demanded the passports and bills of health of the passen- 
gers, etc., and made several inquiries concerning the cargo. These we 
answered by means of one of his men, who spoke a little English, and 
another who spoke French, and to whom I translated our replies. He 
then told the captain and myself that we must go on board of the priva- 
teer, as the commander wanted to make some inquiries, and that I could 
act as interpreter. As we were going over the side, the Genoese captain 
stopped me privately, and with tears in his eyes entreated me not to leave 
the ship, as he believed they only intended to separate us all, that they 
might cut our throats the more easily. I represented to him how useless 
and impolitic it would be to dispute their orders, as it would only enrage 
them ; that we were completely in their power, and they could as easily 
despatch us on board the ship as in the privateer, we having no arms to 
defend ourselves. The poor man shook his head, and said he hoped the 
Virgin would protect me. When we arrived on board the privateer I own 
my heart almost failed me ; a more villainous-looking crew I never be- 
held. Their dark complexions, rough beards, and fierce black eyes scowl- 
ing under enormous bushy eyebrows, gave a character of the greatest 
ferocity to their countenances. They were as rudely accoutred as their 
comrades that had boarded us, and like them, armed with cutlasses, 
stilettos, and pistols. They seemed to regard us with the most malignant 
looks, and I thought I could perceive a sinister smile upon their counte- 
nances, as if triumphing over us who had fallen so easily into their hands. 
Their captain, after reading over our papers and asking us several ques- 
tions about the vessel and cargo, said he only stopped us to know if we 


had the regular bills of health, telling us some confused contradictory 
story of his being employed by the health office of Leghorn. After a 
while he gave us permission to return on board, with which we cheerfully 
complied, but our pleasure was damped when we found that he retained 
all our papers. On arriving on board we understood that they had been 
rummaging the ship, and had ordered them to stand for the shore that 
the vessel might be brought to anchor. When our sails were almost in, 
a signal was given, upon which the privateer fired a gun, gave three 
cheers, and hoisted English colors. The captain or leader then turned 
round with a grin, and said that we were a good prize. We told him to 
recollect we were Americans. He said it was all one ; everything was a 
good prize that came from Genoa, as the port was blockaded. We re- 
plied that there had been no English frigates off the port for six months 
past, consequently they could not pretend but that the blockade had 
ceased. He said we would find the contrary when we arrived at Malta, 
where he intended to carry us. We thought it most advisable to be 
silent, confident that if we were carried to Malta they could do nothing 
with us. The Genoese captain said he was convinced from their behavior 
that they had no idea of carrying us there, but that they were merely a 
band of pirates without commission, and bent upon plundering. 

They then commenced overhauling the ship in hopes of finding money. 
The leader, and one of his comrades who spoke a little English, began 
with the cabin, ordering the others to remain on deck to keep guard. 
They first came across my portmanteau, which I opened for them, and 
the captain rummaged it completely without finding any money, which 
appeared to be his main object. The one who spoke English was em- 
ployed in reading my papers, perhaps hoping to And bills of exchange ; 
but as they were chiefly letters of introduction he soon grew tired, and 
turning to his companion said it was an unprofitable business, that I had 
letters for all Italy and France, but they were nothing but recommenda- 

Eh Men, replied the other, we may as well let his things alone for the 
present — c'est un homme qui court tout le monde. ('Tis a man who is 
rambling over all the world.) Among other letters of introduction they 


came across two for Malta, one to Sir Isaac Ball, the governor, and 
another to a principal English merchant; after this they treated me with 
much more respect, and the captain told me I might put up my things 
again in the portmanteau. I huddled them in carelessly, as I expected 
never again to have the use of them, and locking the trunk offered the key 
to the captain ; he, however, told me to keep it myself, as he had no present 
occasion for it. By this time his myrmidons on deck had lost all patience, 
and came crowding into the cabin demanding permission to search the 
vessel. The leader spoke something to them, and immediately they 
went to work, ravenous as wolves, ransacking every hole and corner. 
They were extremely disappointed at finding so little aboard to pillage. 
The vessel having an intention of loading with wine at Messina had no 
cargo on board but five or six pipes of brandy, some few tons of paper, a 
little verdigris, and two boxes of quicksilver. The latter they hoisted out 
of the run with triumph, thinking them filled with money, but were 
highly chagrined at discovering their real contents. 

After several hours spent in this manner, the commander-in-chief came 
off from the island in a boat. This fellow, I believe, was commodore of 
the squadron, for I learned that there were two more small privateers in 
a harbor of the island. He was as ragged as the rest, though rather a 
good-looking fellow in the countenance. After looking over our papers 
and consulting with his comrades, I suppose they found out that it was 
impolitic to be very hard upon us, as we had not sufficient on board to 
encourage them in running any risk, and they well knew they could not 
justify themselves in taking an American vessel. They therefore returned 
our papers, and told us that though the ship was a lawful prize, yet they 
would be generous and permit us to proceed ; that they did not wish to 
use any force, but would be much obliged to us for some provisions, as 
they were almost out. We of course had to comply with their request, 
and they took about half the provisions that we had on board. 

They likewise took some articles of ship furniture, and one of the under 
vagabonds stole a watch and some clothes out of the trunks of the Gen- 
oese passengers. It is impossible to describe the chagrin and rage of the 
common fellows at being restrained from plundering ; they swore the 


ship was a good prize, and I almost expected to see them rise against 
their leaders for contradicting them. The captains then gave us a receipt 
for what they had taken, requesting the British consul at Messina to pay 
for the same ; and about sunset, to our gveat joy, they bade us adieu, 
having been on board since eleven o'clock in the morning. For my own 
part, they did not take the least article from me. The wind was fair, and 
we spread every sail in hopes of leaving this nest of pirates behind us ; 
but the wind fell before dark, and we lay becalmed all night. You may 
imagine how unpleasant was our situation, under strong apprehension 
that some of the gang, inflamed with the liquor they had taken from us, 
might come off in the night, unknown to the leaders, and commit their 
depredations without fear or restraint. In spite of my uneasiness, I was 
so fatigued that I laid down in my clothes, and soon fell asleep ; but my 
rest was broken and disturbed by horrid dreams. The assassin-like fig- 
ures of the ruffians were continually before me, and two or three times I 
started out of my bed, with the horrid idea that their stilettos were 
raised against my bosom. 

Happily for us, a favorable wind sprung up early this morning, and 
we had the satisfaction of leaving the island far behind us before sun- 

January 5. — At daybreak this morning we found ourselves within a 
few miles of the straits of Messina, and near to the Calabrian coast. The 
sunrise presented to us one of the most charming scenes I ever beheld. 
To our left extended the Calabrian mountains, their summits stdl par- 
tially enveloped in the mists of morning, the sun having just risen 
from behind them, and breaking in full splendor from among the clouds. 
Immediately before us was the celebrated straits immortal in history and 
song ; to the right Sicily gradually swept up into verdant mountains, 
skirted with delightful little plains. The whole country was lovely and 
blooming as if in the midst of spring ; and villages, towns, and cottages 
heightened the beauty of the prospect 

On arriving at Messina the vessel had to undergo quar- 


antine, " one of the torments of these seas," he pro- 
nounces " infinitely more hideous than Pelorus, Scylla, 
and Charybdis with all their terrors." 

January 10. — We are safely moored at Quarantine [he continues] in 
front of the Lazaretto, which is built on the promontory facing the town. 
They have doomed us to this species of imprisonment for twenty-one 
days, notwithstanding we come from a healthy port, are all hearty, and 
have scarcely any cargo on board. Our quarantine is longer than it oth- 
erwise would have been, in consequence of our having been boarded by 
the pirates off Planosa 

The Genoese captain had advised Strong to suppress 
the fact of their having been boarded by the pirates, if he 
wished to escape quarantine. If the question is put to 
me, said the honest captain, I must tell the truth. I have 
heard the author relate, with marked satisfaction, another 
instance of the scrupulous probity of the captain. The 
pirates took half a cask of brandy. There were five on 
board, one of which belonged to Strong. " That's from 
my cask," said the captain, as he noted the depredation. 
" Tut, captain," rejoined the mate, " don't you know the 
proverb, ' Captains' fowls never die.' " " No, no," said the 
captain. " I marked it — it is my cask." 

I resume with the letter : — 

. . . . The same day that we arrived, there entered also the United 
States schooner Nautilus from Syracuse. I have already become quite 
intimate with the officers, and have had several conversations with them. 
As we are an infectious vessel, we are not allowed to communicate with 
them, except at a proper distance. Dent (the captain) is a Philadelphian, 
and appears to be a very clever gentlemanlike fellow. He expects to 


return to Syracuse in a few days, and has invited me to take a passage 

■with him, which I, of course, shall do At Syracuse there 

are several of our vessels, so that I shall be quite among my fellow-coun- 
trymen, and most probably find some old acquaintances 

His long quarantine had proved an intolerable species 
of imprisonment to the traveller ; though what with the 
study of Italian, the reading of books on Sicily, pro- 
cured from shore, and ranging the harbor in the yawl of 
the ship, which he had fitted up with sails, he managed to 
pass away the time. This last amusement, however, was 
attended with the drawback of having a guard from the 
health office constantly with him. He also found a fund 
of entertainment in frequent discourses with the captain. 

Our conversation [he -writes] is whimsical enough, and we alternately 
discuss the New Testament and the Nautical Almanac, and talk indis- 
criminately of Joe Pilmore, Jack Hamilton More, Tom Truxton, Kit Co- 
lumbus, and Jack Wesley. Methodism and lunar observations preside 
by turns, and you may judge how well calculated I am to shine at either. 
The poor old gentleman thinks he is among a set of barbarians, who are 
groping in ignorance, and "stumbling upon the dark mountains." He 
groans whenever the bells ring for mass, abominates the herds of priests 
and monks that crowd this place, and has plainly demonstrated to me, 
that the Roman Church is the great beast with seven horns, and the pope 
is no more and no less than the whore of Babylon. 

Poor Strong ! on his next voyage his vessel was found 
a floating wreck, but he always lingered in the mind of 
his young companion in loving remembrano , ; &,nd one 
of the last allusions to his early years that he over made 
to me recalled the worthy commander. 



ESSINA was at this time but the shadow of 
what it had been, not having yet recovered 
from the paralyzing effects of the earthquake 
of 1783, the marks of which were everywhere discernible 
in heaps of ruins. His stay in it was short, and was 
rendered unpleasant by an unfortunate rencontre in the 
streets at night between one of the officers of the Nauti- 
lus and the mate of an English transport, in which the 
latter was killed. This occasioned much stir among the 
English at Messina, who insisted upon the governor's 
demanding the officer from the captain of the schooner. 
Captain Dent refused to give him up, but pledged his 
word of honor that he should be delivered into the hands 
of the commodore at Syracuse, with a full statement of 
the affair. With this the governor was satisfied, though 
the English were strenuous that he should use forcible 
measures, urging him to have the forts manned, and the 



Nautilus stopped from leaving the port until the officer 
was surrendered. Mr. Irving, who had, as soon as he 
was released from Quarantine, taken up his quarters on 
board of the Nautilus, where he was treated quite like an 
old friend by Captain Dent, in consequence of this unfor- 
tunate affair, avoided mingling much in company at Mes- 
sina, especially as the society to which his letters intro- 
duced him was chiefly English, and a circumstance of 
this nature must necessarily throw a constraint over that 
intercourse. "When so far from home," he remarks, in 
alluding to the affair, "it is impossible to avoid being 
extremely national." 

On the morning of the 29th of January they set sail 
for Syracuse, in company with an English schooner, with 
timber for repairing the mast of the President. Losing 
sight of their convoy the next morning, and supposing 
she had put back to Messina, they veered about, and ran 
before the wind for that port. "We passed through 
Charybdis," says the journal, "which made a heavy 
broken sea. After all that has been said and sung of 
this celebrated place, it would make but a contemptible 
appearance aside of our pass called Hell-gate ; and is 
nothing to compare to it either in real or apparent 

They found the city in a state of alarm. News had 
been brought that a fleet had been seen off the Straits, 
and the inhabitants feared that it was the French or 
English coming to take possession of the place. The 


richer part began to push off into the country with their 
money and valuables. 

The next morning, to resume with the journal, 

Two ships of the line were seen entering the Straits. The whole town 
was immediately in an uproar ; the Marino was crowded with spectators ; 
couriers passing and repassing from the city to the Faro, and troops 
marching about to man the forts. Several more ships made their appear- 
ance, and it was ascertained to be the English fleet. In a short time 
Lord Nelson's ship, the Victory, hove in sight. They all advanced most 
majestically up the Straits. The people seem to wait in fearful expecta- 
tion. The fleet, however, soon relieved their apprehensions ; they con- 
tinued on without entering the harbor. We immediately got under way, 
making a signal for the English schooner to do the same, as we wished to 
have a good view of them. The English schooner was a long time in 
coming out, which gave us a fine opportunity by standing back again to 
examine the fleet. It consisted of eleven sail of the line, three frigates, 
and two brigs, all in prime order, and most noble vessels. We had un- 
derstood, before we left Messina, that Nelson was in search of the French 
fleet which had lately got out of Toulon. They continued in sight all 
day. It was very pleasing to observe with what promptness and dex- 
terity the signals were made, answered, and obeyed. It seemed as a 
body of men under perfect discipline. Every ship appeared to know 
its station immediately, and to change position agreeably to command, 
with the utmost precision. Nelson has brought them to perfect disci- 
pline; he has kept them at sea a long time with very little expense, they 
seldom having more than three sails set all the while they were off Tou- 
lon. He takes great pride in them, and says there is not a vessel among 
them that he would wish out of the fleet. 

In less than a year, Nelson's young admirer, who 
chronicled this animating spectacle, was one of throng- 


ing thousands that pressed to behold his remains as they 
lay in state at Greenwich, wrapped in the flag that now 
floated so proudly above him. 

The passage to Syracuse was short and agreeable. 
The society of the officers made a lively wardroom. 
" Good humor reigned among them, and they had always 
a joke or a good story at hand to make the time pass 
away gayly." He found at Syracuse several of the 
American ships that had been sent out against Tripoli — 
the frigates President, Essex, Constellation, and Congress, 
and the brig Vixen, and was introduced to the officers. 

Arrived at Syracuse, " I was impatient to land," says 
the journal, " and view the interior of a city once so cele- 
brated for arts and arms. But, heavens ! what a change ! 
Streets gloomy and ill-built, and poverty, filth, and mis- 
ery on every side ; no countenance displaying the honest 
traits of ease and independence ; all is servility, indi- 
gence, and discontent." 

In this once magnificent and populous city, now so re- 
duced, there was still much to interest the imagination 
and gratify the curiosity of the young traveller : the sin- 
gularly picturesque and beautiful garden of the Latomie, 
that needed only the hand of taste to make another 
Eden ; the classic fountain of Arethusa, whose gushing 
waters were now the resort of " half-naked nymphs 
busily employed in washing ; " the remains of its ancient 
theatre, aqueduct, and temples, which spoke of the days 
of its highest splendor, and the vast catacombs that ex- 


tended to an unknown distance under ground — the silent 
abodes of a mighty population passed away. 

His journal contains descriptions of these and other in- 
teresting curiosities, which it does not fall within my plan 
to extract. I give only, as partaking of adventure and 
presenting some features of novelty, his exploration of 
the secret chamber of Dionysius, which Brydone, in his 
tour in Sicily, describes as "totally inaccessible." To 
make proof of its mysteries, therefore, was something of 
a notable exploit. 

February 4. — This morning I walked out of town to visit the cele- 
brated Ear of Dionysius the Tyrant. 1 was accompanied by Dr. Baker of 
the President, Davis, a midshipman, and Tootle, purser of the Nautilus. 

The approach to the Ear is through a vast quarry ; one of those from 
whence the stone for the edifices of ancient Syracuse was procured. The 
bottom of this quarry is cultivated in many places, and being entirely 
open overhead to the sun and sheltered on every side from the wind by 
i-igh precipices, it is very fertile. 

Travellers have generally been very careless in their account of the 
Ear. Some one originally started the observation that it was cut in the 
form of a human ear, and every one who has since given a description of 
it has followed in the same track and made the same remark. Brydone, 
among the rest, joins in it 

The Ear is a vast serpentine cavern, something in the form of the letter 
§ reversed; its greatest width is at the bottom, from whence it narrows 
with an inflection to the top, something like the external shape of an 
ass's ear. Its height is about eighty or ninety feet, and its length about 
one hundred and twenty. It is the same height and dimensions from the 
entrance to the extremity where it ends abruptly. The marks of the 
tools are still perfectly visible on the walls of the cavern. 


The rock is brought to a regular surface the whole extent, without any 
projection or curvatures as in the human ear. About half way in the 
cavern is a small square recess or chamber cut in one side of the wall even 
with the ground, and at the interior extremity there appears to be a small 
recess at the top, but it is at present inaccessible. A poor man who lives 
iu the neighborhood attended us with torches of straw, by which we had 
a very good view of the interior of the Ear. Holes are discernible near 
the interior end of the cave, which are made in the wall at regular dis- 
tances and ascend up in an inclined direction. They are about an inch 
in diameter. Some of the company were of opinion that they have for- 
merly contributed to the support of a stairs or ladder, but there is no vis- 
ible place where a stairs could lead to, and the holes do not go above half 
the height of the cavern. 

There are several parts of the Ear in which the discharge of a pistol 
makes a prodigious report, heightened by the echoes and reverberations of 
the cavern. One of the company had a fowling-piece which he discharged, 
and it made a noise almost equal to a discharge of artillery, though not 
so sharp a report. A pistol also produced a report similar to a volley of 
musketry. The best place to stand to hear the echoes to advantage is in 
the mouth of the cavern. A piece of paper torn in this place makes an 
echo as if some person had struck the wall violently with a stick in the 
back of the cave. 

This singidar cavern is called the Ear of Dionysius, from the purpose 
for which it is said to have been destined by that tyrant. Conscious of 
the disaffection of his subjects, and the hatred and enmity his tyrannical 
government had produced, he became suspicious and distrustful even of 
his courtiers that surrounded him. He is said to have had this cavern 
made for the confinement of those persons of whom he had the strongest 
suspicions. It was so constructed that anything said in it, in ever so low 
a murmur, would be conveyed to a small aperture that opened into a little 
chamber where he used to station himself and listen. This chamber is 
still shown. It is on the outside of the Ear just above the entrance, and 
communicates with the interior. Some of the officers of our navy have 
been in it last summer ; they were lowered down to it by ropes, and men- 


tion that sounds are conveyed to it from the cavern with amazing dis- 
tinctness. I wished very much [continues the journal] to get to it, and 
the man who attended us brought me a cord for the purpose, but my com- 
panions protested they would not assist in lowering me down, and finally 
persuaded me that it was too hazardous, as the cord was small and might 
be chafed through in rubbing against the rock, in which case I would run 
a risk of being dashed to pieces. I therefore abandoned the project for 
the present. [He resumed it, however, in two days.] 

6th. — This morning [says the journal], Lieuts. Murray and Gardner, and 
Capt. Hall, of the ship President, Capt. Dent of the Nautilus, and myself, 
set off to pay another visit to the Ear of Dionysius. We despatched be- 
forehand a midshipman and four sailors with a spar and a couple of hal- 
yards. On arriving there, we went to the top of the precipice immediately 
over the mouth of the cave. Here we fastened ourselves to one of the hal- 
yards, and were lowered successively over the edge of the precipice (having 
previously disposed the spar along the edge of the rock so as to keep the 
halyard from chafing) into a small hole over the entrance of the Ear, and 
about fifteen feet from the summit of the precipice. The persons lowered 
were Murray, Hall, the midshipman and myself, the others swearing they 
would not risk their necks to gratify their curiosity. 

The cavern narrows as it approaches the top, until it ends in a narrow 
channel that runs the whole extent, and terminates in this small cham- 
ber. A passage from this hole or chamber appears to have been com- 
menced to be cut to run into the interior of the rock, but was never car- 
ried more than ten or fifteen feet. We then began to make experiments 
to prove if sound was communicated from below to this spot in any ex- 
traordinary degree. Gardner fired a pistol repeatedly, but it did not ap- 
pear to make a greater noise than when we were below in the mouth of 
the cavern. We then tried the conveyance of voices ; in this we were 
more successful. One of the company stationed himself at the interior 
extremity of the Ear, and applying his mouth close to the wall, spoke to 
me just above a whisper. I was then stationed with my ear to the wall 
in the little chamber on high, and about two hundred and fifty feet dis- 
tant, and could hear him very distinctly. We conversed with one another 


in this manner for some time. We then moved to other parts of the cav- 
ern, and I could hear him with equal facility, his voice seeming to be 
just behind me. When, however, he applied his mouth to the opposite 
side of the cave, it was by no means so distinct. This is easily accounted 
for, as one side of the channel is broken away at the mouth of the cavern, 
which injures the conveyance of the sound. After all, I doubt very much 
whether the cave was ever intended for the purposes ascribed to it. The 
fact is, that when more than one person speaks at a time, it creates such 
a confusion of sound between their voices and the echoes, that it is im- 
possible to distinguish what they say. This we tried repeatedly, and 
found to be invariably the case. 

But the antiquities of Syracuse did not engage the ex- 
clusive attention of the traveller. He found a romantic 
interest in visiting the convents, and endeavoring to get 
a " sly peep " at the nuns. The following extract from 
his journal shows him seeking amusement in another 

10th. — In the evening I went to a masquerade at the theatre. 

I had dressed myself in the character of an old physician, which was 
the only dress I could procure, and had a vast deal of amusement among 
the officers. I spoke to them in broken English, mingling Italian and 
French with it, so that they thought I was a Sicilian. As I knew many 
anecdotes of almost all of them, I teazed them the whole evening, till at 
length one of them discovered me by my voice, which I happened not to 
disguise at the moment. 

In the further prosecution of his tour in Sicily, Mr. 
Irving found it impossible to continue the accustomed 
minuteness of his journal. His correspondence also was 
suspended. He was so constantly in motion, and objects 


presented themselves so rapidly and in such variety that 
he had scarcely a moment to write, and was obliged to 
content himself with a few hurried notes in pencil, and 
to forego altogether his usual mode of scribbling a little 
every day or two to his brother William, treating of ob- 
jects and incidents as they occurred. In a letter to the 
latter, dated at Rome, he attempts a brief retrospect of 
his tour, from which I make an extract. 

I remained at Syracuse [he writes] about nine days, delighted with 
finding myself surrounded with fellow-countrymen. Among the officers 
of the ships, I found several of the finest young fellows I ever knew, 
" open, and generous, and bountiful, and brave." Every ship was to me 
a home, and every officer a friend. Having satisfied myself with respect 
In 1 he melancholy monuments of ancient greatness that remain around 
Syracuse, I left there with extreme regret on the 11th February, in com- 
pany with Captain Hall, captain of marines on board of the President, a 
young fellow of Charleston, of great vivacity and spirit; Wynn and Wads- 
worth, of Connecticut, pursers of the Congress and President, both excel- 
lent companions, particularly Wynn, who is a fellow of great whim and 
humor. Our destination was Catania, and we made a very respectable 
dcade. Hall, myself, and a servant we had with us, were mounted 
.•a mules. Wynn and Wadsworth were seated in a lettiga, a kind of 
a chair that accommodates two persons who sit facing each other ; 
it is slung on two polos, that are borne by two mules, one before and 
one behind. We had, besides, a numerous retinue of guides and mule- 
'i'liis is the only mode of travelling in this country, for the roads 
are mere footpaths that wind among rocks and along precipices, where 
it would be impossible for carriages to pass. We were well armed with 
pistols, swords, and dirks, to guard against the attacks of banditti, of 
which the island is said to be full. 


About two o'clock of the second day they arrived at 
Catania. The letter proceeds : — 

Our stay in Catania was rendered extremely agreeable by the attentions 
of the Chevalier Landolini, a knight of Malta, to whom we had brought 
letters. He introduced us to several of the nobility, by whom we were 
received with great politeness and attention, and invited to all the 
parties that took place during our stay. The situation of Catania is very 
beautiful ; behind it the mountain rears its awful head, vomiting smoke, 
and often enveloped in clouds ; in front is the ocean forming a vast bay, 
and to the right is the extensive plain of Catania with the river Giuretta 
wandering through it. We ascended about half way up the mountain, 
but were prevented from attaining the summit by the vast quantity of 
snow in which it was enveloped. No guide would venture up it, and the 
attempt we were told would be hazardous in the extreme, and certainly 
fruitless. We mounted to the top of several of the small mountains 
thrown up on the sides of the great one by different eruptions, particu- 
larly Monte Rosso (red mountain), from which issued the last stream of 
lava that destroyed Catania. The view from hence was superb, and 
almost unbounded, and we could trace the enormous flood of lava till it 
lost itself in the sea, about ten miles distant. 

. . . . At Catania our company divided. Wynn and Wadsworth, 
returned to Syracuse, and Captain Hall and myself set out to cross the 
island to Palermo. We were mounted as before on mules, armed our- 
selves well with pistols and swords, and had a servant with us, a coura- 
geous fellow, with at least half a dozen pistols stuck in his pockets and 

I give a few reminiscences of this part of his tour, 
gathered from the lips of Mr. Irving. 

The evening after their departure from Catania, for 
lack of better accommodations, they were forced to ac- 
cept an offer to sleep in a chapel, much to the discomfort 
vol. i.— 7 


of their servant Louis, who, though willing to submit to 
any privation, professed that he did not quite fancy " le 
bon Dieu " for " a Maitre d'Hotel." The next dav, at 
dusk, they reached the village of Guadarara, consisting- 
of a few wretched cabins. The muleteer stopped at a 
solitary house, where he told them they must pass the 
night. It was the only inn in the place, but the landlord 
was absent, and it was without master or mistress, or at- 
tendant of any kind. They did not at all like the looks 
of the house or the place ; everything had an appearance 
the most deplorable and forlorn. Their sleeping room 
was a long dismal-looking apartment, to the door of 
which the ascent was by outside stairs, and underneath 
it was a shed for horses. It was almost bare of furni- 
ture. In one part were a few chairs, and in the corner 
furthest from the door was a large mattress which a man 
from the village had brought for the night, and spreading 
a blanket over it, had left. They purchased some fowls 
from the village, which Louis cooked for supper ; and 
after a tolerably comfortable meal they fastened the door 
as securely as possible, and prepared to retire for the 
night. There was a small room near the door in which 
the servant slept. Hall chose the mattress in the further 
corner of the room, nothing daunted by the swarming 
fleas which had driven his companion from it on turning 
down the blanket ; while the latter spread a mattress 
brought with them on some chairs near the door, and 
wrapped in his great-coat, and with his pistols and port- 



manteau under his head, prepared to resign himself to 
sleep. He was far, however, from feeling at ease in his 
forlorn lodgings; the wild and solitary situation of the 
house, the abject poverty of the inhabitants, combined 
with the constant rumors of robbers, were enough to pro- 
duce disagreeable sensations. In spite, however, of his 
uneasy reflections, he soon fell asleep. It was not lono- be- 
fore he was awakened by Louis calling in Italian, " "Who's 
there ? " Mr. Irving asked him what was the matter, 
and he answered that he heard some one at the door. 
The latter laid his hand on his pistol, prepared to fire if 
the door opened. He heard nothing, however, and tell- 
ing Louis his imagination had been playing him a trick, 
soon fell asleep again. Again, however, was he roused 
by the sudden, sharp cry of Louis, " Who's there ? " and 
on listening, he now heard with painful distinctness a 
sound as of some one slyly attempting the door. Louis 
could endure the suspense no longer, but resolved to con- 
front the danger at once, and in a few brief words whis- 
pered his determination to get to the door, and throw it 
suddenly open, hoping the surprise might frighten the 
intruders, or thinking that at all events they could be 
better kept at bay on the stairs, where one could be en- 
countered at a time. Mr. Irving assented to the plan, 
and grasping a pistol firmly in each hand, stood ready for 
the fray. Louis seized his dirk, and groping his way 
with a light tread to the door, threw it suddenly open, 
and in bolted— a half-starved and inoffensive dog. The 


denouement was prosaic enough. The poor animal had 
been attracted by the smell of some bones which had 
fallen from the supper-table just inside of the door, and trying in vain to reach them with his paws under the 
crevice. The feeling of relief which followed this discov- 
ery may readily be imagined. Mr. Irving had a hearty 
laugh at the adventure, and soon fell again into a sound 
sleep, from which he awoke the next morning, as he said 
to me, " perfectly satisfied to be neither robbed nor mur- 

Two days more brought them again to the sea-side, and 
they pursued the road along the coast to Termini, a town 
of some three thousand inhabitants, delightfully situated 
on the side of a hill, and commanding from its higher 
parts a fine view o*f the Mediterranean and of the Sicilian 
coasts. Here they arrived after dark. Irving was much 
fatigued, and on reaching the inn, threw himself on a bed 
in a corner of the large room into which they were shown, 
and fell asleep. He was roused from his slumber by the 
sound of voices in conversation at the other end of the 
apartment, and listening, perceived the language was Eng- 
lish. Hall, observing that he was awake, immediately 
turned to him, and told him there was to be a ball that 
evening, it being the season of the carnival, and that the 
gentleman with whom he was conversing, and who was in 
mask of a Turk, had promised them admittance ; and be- 
ing ever ready for a frolic, he proposed that they should 


go. His fellow-traveller made some demur oa the score 
of fatigue, and the trouble of unpacking his trunk to 
dress, but finally consented to appear in one of Hall's 
uniform coats, as a Captain of Marines. The stranger 
then took leave, promising to return after supper and 
conduct them to the place. At the appointed hour he 
came, dressed as a Turk, and masked as before, and the 
two set out with him, supposing they were going to a 
public entertainment. They were somewhat staggered, 
however, when they found themselves ascending the stairs 
of a stately mansion, through rows of servants in livery, 
and a brilliant array of lights, and the feeling was not 
dissipated when they were ushered into a spacious sa- 
loon adorned with taste and magnificence ; and casting a 
startled glance" upon the numerous company, they saw in 
their conductor the only mask in the room. Before they 
had recovered from their surprise, the Turk marshaled 
them to the part of the saloon where stood the master of 
the entertainment and his daughters, in waiting to receive 
their guests. Pointing to his companions as they drew 
near, then crossing his arms and making a low salaam, 
without a word of explanation or introduction, he stood 
as mute as a statue. It was an awkward situation for the 
two guests, and the idea flashed across their minds that 
they had been decoyed into what could not but seem a 
graceless intrusion upon the hospitality of a stranger. 
With much confusion, therefore, and in the best Italian 
he could muster, Mr. Irving announced their names, and 


attempted an explanation of the apparent indecorum, by 
stating their impression that they were coming to a pub- 
lic entertainment. Their host replied very graciously, 
that they were at the house of the Baron Palmeria, and 
asked the name of their conductor. Here was a new em- 
barrassment, for they could not give it. " Whoever he 
is," he rejoined, " I am indebted to him for introducing 
to my house gentlemen whose uniform is a sufficient 
passport anywhere." Upon this the Turk whispered a 
rapid explanation of his interview with the strangers, 
and the Baron, turning to them with a smile, informed 
them that their unknown conductor was a teacher in his 
family, who was engaged in instructing his daughters in 
English. Confiding in the general popularity of strangers 
in Sicily, and the special attraction to his pupils of two 
who could converse with them in the language they were 
acquiring, it turned out that he had assumed the responsi- 
bility of contriving what he had little doubt would prove 
to both parties an agreeable surprise. Renewing his 
welcome with genuine hospitality, the Baron now com- 
menced a conversation with the spurious captain, in the 
midst of which the folding-doors were suddenly thrown 
open, and a corps de ballet made its appearance to com- 
mence the ball. After this the rest of the company pre- 
pared to join in the dance ; the two strangers, on being 
urged, excused themselves on the plea of ignorance of the 
figures. Perceiving, however, the dance to be a country 
dance with which they were familiar, they were induced 


to change their minds, and Mr. Irving having been intro- 
duced to a daughter of the Baron, and his companion to 
one of the belles of the place, they soon entered with zest 
into the spirit of the scene. Other dances followed in 
which they took part, and before they had finished the 
evening, their spirits had risen to so high a point, and 
they abandoned themselves with so little constraint to the 
animation of the scene, that they heard a Sicilian whis- 
per, as they raced by him in the dance, Son diavoli ! 

"When the assembly broke up, the master of the house 
expressed great regret at parting with them, and pressed 
them to remain some days at Termini, tendering them 
the hospitality of his own mansion, and offering to send 
for an American in Palermo to keep them company. 
This was Mr. Nathaniel Amory, of Boston, whose brother 
was an officer in the fleet, and to whom the author had 
a letter of introduction. The invitation, however, was 
declined. The Baron then despatched a servant with 
them, with torches to light them to their lodgings, and 
bade them farewell. 

There was a strangeness and a spice of romance about 
this adventure that gave it a wonderful zest to the young 
traveller, and separated it in his after recollections from 
all his commonplace experiences. Twenty years later 
he records in his note-book a meeting with a cousin of his 
" chance acquaintance, the Baron Palmeria." 



COPY from a letter to his brother William, 
elated Pome, April 4, 1805. 

We arrived at Palermo about the 24th of February, and 
passed several days there very agreeably. We had brought letters to 
Mr. Gibbs, American agent there, and to the Princess Camporeale from 
her sister at Catania. We, therefore, soon found acquaintance among the 
nobility ; and as it was the latter part of carnival, the gayest season of 
the year, our time was completely occupied by amusements. A« the time 
for my departure from Palermo approached, I began to feel extremely 
uneasy. The packet that sails constantly between that city and Naples, 
and is always well armed, was unfortunately undergoing repairs at Na- 
ples. No alternative offered than to venture across in one of the small 
vessels that carry fruit to the continent. Reports were in circulation of 
two or three Tripolitan cruisers hovering about the Italian coast, and that 
they had taken two American ships ; besides these the Sicilian vessels are 
subject to capture from the cruisers of every Barbary power. 

He determines to risk the fruit boat, which started 
after dark, as was usual, to escape any lurking cruiser 



near the land, and in the morning was almost out of s: 
of Sicily, when the wind turned ahead, and the captain, 
without more ado, put back to a small bay, about h d 
miles from Palermo, where he remained two days waiting 
for a favorable wind. 

All that time (the letter continues) I passed on shore in a w 
hovel, where I had scarce anything to eat, and where I had to sleep in 
my clothes and great-coat at night, for want of other covering. After 
these two days of suffering, we made out to get to Palermo. There I 
passed another day of uneasiness of mind till a favorable wind sprung ap. 
We hoisted sail and weighed anchor at night ; the next morning we wero 
out of sight of Sicily, had a fine run all day, and in the course of the 
next night entered the bay of Naples, where, to my great comfort, I 
the flaming summit of Vesuvius, which was a joyful token that we wero 
out of danger. I have been several times congratulated on my good for- 
tune, for three or four days after two Neapolitan vessels were taken by 
Barbary cruisers, as they were crossing from Sicily. [His travelling notes 
give a little more minuteness to the picture.] I had lain down (he 
on deck and fallen asleep, and on waking after dark, the first thing that 
struck my eyes was Mount Vesuvius afar off making a most luminous ap- 
pearance. It has been in a state of eruption for several months. I could 
plainly perceive the red-hot lava running out of one side of the crater, 
and flashes at intervals from its mouth. I was up the greater part of the 
night, contemplating this interesting object. 

March 7.— This morning early I arose, and found that we were within 
the Bay of Naples. Mount Vesuvius still continued luminous ; by de- 
grees the day broke ; the objects were gradually lighted up. I remained 
earnestly gazing around, endeavoring to trace places that I had often 
read descriptions of. At length the heavens were brilliantly illuminate 1. 
The sun appeared diffusing the richest rays among the clouds, and gild- 
ing every feature of the prospect. Then it was that I had a full vi< 


this lovely bay: the classic retreats of Baise, Pozzuoli, the superb city oi 
Naples, the delightful towns of Portici, etc., that skirt the Mount Vesu- 
vius ; the mountain itself emitting an immense column of smoke, with 
the coast that terminates the bay beyond the mountain, affording the most 
picturesque scenery. The view of Naples from the sea is truly magnifi- 
cent and imposing. 

His stay at Naples was rendered particularly agree- 
able by the acquaintance of Mr. Joseph C. Cabell and 
Colonel John Mercer, "two gentlemen of Virginia, of 
superior talents and information." The latter was one 
of the Commissioners of Claims sent out to France. 
" We examined all the curiosities of the place together," 
he writes, "and mounted Vesuvius at night, when we 
had a tremendous view of the crater, a stream of red-hot 
lava, etc. "We approached near enough to the latter to 
thrust our sticks into it." 

The journal gives a full account of this night ascent, 
but I will not fatigue the reader with the description of 
a scene so familiar. I give only this little item of per- 
sonal experience : — 

"We were toiling up the crater, nearly in a parallel line with this object 
[a hillock in the lava, out of which sulphurous flames issued with a vio- 
lent hissing noise], when the wind set directly from it and overwhelmed 
us with dense torrents of the most noxious smoke. I endeavored to hold 
my breath as long as possible, in hopes another flaw of wind would carry 
it off, but at length I was obliged to draw it in, and inhale a draught of 
the poisonous vapor that almost overcame me. Fortunately for us the 
wind shifted, or I sincerely believe that in a little time we should have 
shared the fate of Pliny, and died the martyrs of imprudent curiosity. 


Col. Mercer, as soon as he saw the smoke coming, turned about and r i 
a precipitate retreat, and did not make a second attempt to ascend 
crater. As to Cabell and myself, we were so exhausted and bewild 
that we could not stir from the spot, but should have fail 

On the 24th of March, Irving and Cabell bade adieu 
to Naples. Colonel Mercer had sailed a few days before 
for Marseilles. "I have been in no city," says the jour- 
nal, " where the population is so crowded and the bustle 
so great as at Naples, and I shall be heartily glad to 
bid it adieu, and repose myself in the silent retreats <>f 
Rome." If all was hurry and bustle at Naples, he had 
ample time for reverie and reflection on the road. " There 
is no country," he writes, "where the prospects so min-h 
interest my mind, and awaken such a variety of ideas as 
in Italy. Every mountain, every valley, every plain, tells 
some striking story I am lost in astonish- 
ment at the magnificence of their works, at their sublime 
ideas of architecture, and their enormous public under- 
takings." At half-past one o'clock on the 27th they 
entered Eome by the Lateran gate, " and we made our 
way," says the journal, 

" ' 'Mid fanes, and wrecks, and tumbling towers,' 

to our hotel, which is situated in the modern part. To describe the emo- 
tions of the mind and the crowd of ideas that arise on entering this ' mis- 
tress of the world,' is impossible ; all is confusion and agitation. The 
eye roves rapidly from side to side, eager to grasp every object, but con 


tinually diverted by some new scene ; all is wonder, restlessness, unsatis- 
fied curiosity, eagerness, and impatience. 

" On arriving at the hotel we determined to rest ourselves for the day, 
collect our scattered ideas, and prepare to examine things deliberately 
and satisfactorily. We heard that there were three American gentlemen 
at Home on their travels, namely, Mr. Allston of Carolina, Mr. Wells of 
Boston, and Mr. Maxwell. As Mr. Cabell was acquainted with two of 
them we called on them. Mr. Allston only was at home. He is a young 
gentleman of much taste and a good education. He has adopted the pro- 
fession of painter through inclination, and intends to remain in Rome 
two years to improve himself in the art." 

Such is the brief allusion to his first meeting with 
our distinguished painter, "Washington Allston, then un- 
known to fame. Allston was about three years his se- 
nior. In a few evenings he returned the call, and his 
society is pronounced to be "peculiarly agreeable." In 
moro mature years he writes : "I do not think I have 
ever been more completely captivated on a first acquaint- 
ance. He was of a light and graceful form, with large 
blue eyes and black silken hair, waving and curling 
round a pale, expressive countenance. Everything about 
him bespoke the man of intellect and refinement. His 
conversation was copious, animated, and highly graphic, 
warmed by a genial sensibility and benevolence, and en- 
livened by a chaste and gentle humor." 

The third of April (Irving's birthday) was spent by 
him and Allston in visiting a variety of paintings. " We 
visited together," savs the former, in a communication 
to Duyckinck's "Cyclopedia of American Literature," 


"some of the finest collections of paintings, and ho taught 
me how to visit them to the most advantage, guiding me 
always to the masterpieces, and passing by the others 
without notice. ' Never attempt to enjoy every picture 
in a great collection,' he would say, ' unless you have a 
year to bestow upon it. You may as well attempt to en- 
joy every dish in a lord mayor's feast. Both mind and 
palate get confounded by a great variety and rapid suc- 
cession even of delicacies. The mind can only take in a 
certain number of images and impressions distinctly : by 
multiplying the number you weaken each and render the 
whole confused and vague. Study the choice pieces in 
each collection ; look upon none else, and you will after- 
wards find them hanging up in your memory.' ' 

I give a further extract from the communication here 
quoted, which brings the author before us seriously re- 
volving a project of remainiDg at Home and becoming a 

We had delightful rambles together about Rome and its environs, one 
of which came near changing my whole course of life. We had been 
visiting a stately villa, with its gallery of paintings, its marble halls, its 
terraced gardens set out with statues and fountains, and were returning 
to Rome about sunset. The blandness of the air, the serenity of the sky, 
the transparent purity of the atmosphere, and that nameless charm which 
hangs about an Italian landscape, had derived additional effect from be- 
ing enjoyed in company with Allston, and pointed out by him with the 
enthusiasm of an artist. As I listened to him, and gazed upon the land- 
scape, I drew in my mind a contrast between our different pursuits and 
prospects. He was to reside among these delightful scenes, surrounded 


by masterpieces of art, by classic and historic monuments, by men of 
congenial minds and tastes, engaged like him in the constant study of 
the sublime and beautiful. I was to return home to the diy study of tho 
law, for which I had no relish, and, as I feared, little talent. 

Suddenly the thought presented itself, — "Why might I not remain 
here, and turn painter ? " I had taken lessons in drawing before leaving 
America, and had been thought to have some aptness, as I certainly had 
a strong inclination for it. I mentioned the idea to Allston, and he 
caught at it with eagerness. Nothing could be more feasible. We would 
take an apartment together. lie would give me all the instruction and 
assistance in his power, and was sure I would succeed. 

For two or three days the idea took full possession of my mind, but 1 
believe it owed its main force to the lovely evening ramble in which I first 
conceived it, and to the romantic friendship I had formed with Allston. 
Whenever it recurred to mind, it was always connected with beautiful 
Italian scenery, palaces and statues and fountains and terraced gardens, 
and Allston as the companion of my studio. I promised myself a world 
of enjoyment in his society, and in the society of several artists with 
whom he had made me acquainted, and pictured forth a scheme of life 
all tinted with the rainbow hues of youthful promise. 

My lot in life, however, was differently cast. Doubts and fears grad- 
ually clouded over my prospect; the rainbow tints faded away ; I began 
to apprehend a sterile reality, so I gave up the transient but delightful 
prospect of remaining in Rome with Allston, and turning painter. 

Whether he had any peculiar gifts for such a vocation, 
I am unable to say ; but he once remarked to me that he 
thought he might have succeeded in landscape painting, 
for which he had a great passion. One qualification he 
certainly possessed, an eye for color ; and no painting 
could long please him, whatever might be its other mer- 
its, if its tints were cold and raw. "I should get the 


rheumatism," said he once to Leslie, " if I were com 
to live in a room surrounded with such landscapes." 

Mr. Irving had brought a letter to Torlonia, the 
banker, which his travelling companion advised him not 
to deliver. "It will procure you no attention," said he. 
"I have been here before and have tried it." His recep- 
tion, however, was very flattering. He gave him a gen- 
eral invitation to conversaziones, that were held twice a 
week at his house, offered to introduce him to a conver- 
sazione of nobility on the following night, and through 
his stay continued to treat him with marked politeness 
and civility, to the no small surprise of Cabell, who was 
at a loss to account for the difference. Irving jocularly 
ascribed it to the superior discrimination of Torlonia. 
The joke was turned, however, when he came to make 
his adieus, and Torlonia, calling him aside, said, " Dites 
moi, Monsieur, etes vous parent de General Washing- 
ton ? " [Tell me, sir, are you a kinsman of General 
"Washington?] It was to the name of "Washington" 
and the supposed relationship it indicated to him that 
he was indebted for his extra attention. 

As a set-off to this, I may mention an anecdote of a 
conversation overheard by Carter, author of "Letters 
from Europe," and by him communicated to an intelli- 
gent female friend, who told it to me. Not long after Mr. 
Irving had attained celebrity in Great Britain by his 
writings, an English lady and her daughter were passing 
along some gallery in Italy and paused before a bust of 


Washington. After gazing at it for a few moments, the 
daughter turned to her mother with the question : 
" Mother, who was Washington ? " " Why, my dear, 
don't you know ? " was the rej)ly, " he wrote the ' Sketch 
Book.' " 

The journal records that he was present the evening of 
April 7th, " at a crowded assembly that filled four rooms, 
consisting of the first nobility of Rome, and several for- 
eigners of distinction." 

In this converzasione he accompanied the Baron de 
Humboldt, Minister of Prussia to the Court of Rome, and 
brother of the celebrated traveller, to whom he had 
brought a letter of introduction from Naples. On a pre- 
vious evening, at the house of this gentleman, he had met 
Madame de Stael. The literary reputation of this gifted 
woman had not yet reached the height to which it was 
carried by the publication of her " Corinne " (in 1807), 
and " .Delphine " was the only one of her productions 
which Mr. Irving had then read. " We found there," 
says he, in recording the visit, " Madame de Stael, the 
celebrated authoress of ' Delphine.' She is a woman of 
great strength of mind and understanding, by all ac- 
counts. We were in company with her but a few min- 
utes." He afterwards dined with her at the table of the 
minister, and would seem, by what he once stated to me, 
to have been somewhat astounded at the amazing; flow of 
her conversation, and the question upon question with 
which she plied him. 



FTER, remaining in Rome long enough to wit- 
ness the ceremonies of the Holy Week, which 
were rendered less imposing than usual by the 
absence of the Pope, the young traveller proceeded on 
his journey, accompanied by Mr. Cabell. 

As the two fellow-travellers drew near to Bologna, 
they found the road thronged with French soldiers on 
their way to Castiglione, to form a camp for the purpose 
of celebrating the approaching coronation of Bonaparte 
as king of Lombardy. " Each had his knapsack on his 
back, his gun on his shoulder, and a loaf of brown bread 
slung on one side, and was trudging along through mud 
and mire, with all the cheerfulness and flow of spirits 
of a Frenchman." 

They arrived at Bologna about sunset, and put up at 
the Albergo del Pelegrino, " glad," says the journal, " to 
be emancipated from the miserable carriage in which we 
vol. i.— 8 113 


had been jolted along for nine days successively." They 
lingered a few days in Bologna, and then s%t out for 
Milan, after some difficulty in getting their passports 
signed, orders having been issued enjoining the greatest 
strictness in respect to passports, in consequence of the 
approaching coronation. They reached Milan by way of 
Modena, Parma, Piacenza, and Lodi. Between this last 
place and Milan the country was very much infested 
with robbers, and they were cautioned against travelling 
either before sunrise or after dark. They had sufficient 
proof that the caution was well founded, in the number 
of crosses they passed nailed to trees, to mark the spot 
where travellers had been robbed and murdered. "In 
one place five crosses were nailed on one tree, in another 
place two." The road, however, was rendered perfectly 
safe at the time they passed by the number of peasants 
going to their labor in the fields. 

They arrived at Milan on the 29th of April, and re- 
mained three days, but they were so fatigued in body, 
and their imaginations were so sated with the profusion 
of masterpieces they had seen, that they could not pre- 
vail upon themselves to visit any of the productions of 
art to be found in this city. It was a sad disappoint- 
ment to them, however, not to be admitted to a sight 
of the inside of the famous cathedral, which was being 
fitted up for the approaching coronation, and none but 
the numerous workmen employed upon it were allowed 
to enter. 


If Mr. Irving's admiration of the paintings and sculp- 
ture of Italy had become somewhat sated, his fondm 
for its music would seem to have grown by what it ft I 
When he first attended one of its operas, he had been 
inclined to think the frantic bravos and bravissimos with 
which the Italians gave vent to their feelings " a ridicu- 
lous affectation. I allowed the Italians," he says, " the 
hightest musical disposition, but thought they carried 
their applause beyond their real approbation. In a little 
while, however, by frequenting the operas and accustom- 
ing myself to the novelty of their music, I began to find 
a fondness for it stealing on myself, raid I now hurry to 
an opera with as much eagerness as an Italian." This 
was a passion which knew no decline ; throughout life 
he was devotedly fond of this entertainment. 

They left Milan on the 2d of May, and the same day 
arrived at the little village of Sesto, where they procured 
a bark to transport them across the Lago Maggiore to 
Magadino at the other end. The remainder of their jour- 
ney, upon which I cannot detain the reader, lay over 
Mount St. Gothard to Altorf, from Altorf along the Lake 
of the four Cantons to Lucerne, from Lucerne to Zurich, 
from Zurich to Basle, and from Basle through Franche 
Comte, Alsace, and Champagne to Paris, which they 
reached on the 24th of May. 

The distant view of this capital, when they first came 
in sight, was very fine. "To us," says the journal, 
"it was a most interesting sight, and, like mariners 


after a long voyage, we hailed with joy our haven of re. 

His residence at Paris extended through four months, 
during which time he kept no journal, and would seem, 
also, from the few letters that remain, to have remitted 
his usual punctuality to the family. The only record he 
has left behind of his mode of life in the gay metropolis 
during this sojourn, consists of some brief and hasty 
memoranda, continued through a few weeks, which I give 
in pari below. 

May 2itTi. — Arrived in Paris this afternoon. Put up at the Hotel de 
Richelieu, Rue de la loi. 

25th. — Had a levee of tailors, shirt-makers, boot-makers, etc., to rig 
me out a la mode de Paris 

In the evening went to the Theatre Montansier in the Palais Royal. 
Acting humorous and rather gross ; scenery tolerable. After theatre took 
a stroll in the garden of the Palais Royal ; accosted by afille dejoie, who 
begged me to purchase a bouquet for her. I saw it was a mere scheme of 
the poor girl to get a few sous to buy herself some bread for the next day ; 
it was evident she and the old woman who sold bouquets acted in concert. 
I pitied her, and paid double price for the bouquet. My head is as yet 
completely confused with the noise and bustle of Paris. 

29^.— Get my protection from the police. In the evening to the The- 
atre Francais— Tragedy of the Templars — Talma, La Fond, and Made- 
moiselle Georges — Talma fine figure — great powers. 

Slst. — 'Tended lectures on Botany — evening, opera, — music sublime — 
costume and scenery fine and appropriate. 

June 2d. — Walking in the garden of the Tuileries, encountered young 
French officer with whom I had travelled in diligence last summer from 
Bordeaux to Toulouse. He had passed all the winter at his mother's in 


Languedoc, find had come to Paris in hopes of getting a commission to 
go over to England in the flotilla— warm in praise of the Emperor— said 
the army universally loved him, and would carry him even in I heir hands. 

The young officer here mentioned was the one whom 
the compassionate damsels of Tonneins besought to be 
kind to his prisoner. As the quondam prisoner was pass- 
ing by without seeing him, he suddenly broke from a 
group of companions, and rushing towards him, threw 
his arms around him and kissed him a la Francaise on 
both cheeks before he had time to scan his features or 
know to whom he was indebted for such an affectionate 

Ath. — Left Hotel de Richelieu and took room the other side of the 
Seine. Hotel d'Angleterre, Rue de Colombier, Faubourg St. Martin, at 
60 livres per month — room pleasantly situated on ground floor, well fur- 
nished, looks out on a handsome little garden — hotel genteel and ex- 
tensive — in the neighborhood of Vanderlyn. 

&h. — Dined with Vanderlyn at a Swiss restaurateur's in Louvre — 
cheap. In evening went to little theatre of Jeunes Artistes — garden des 
Capuchins — boys acting plays — sing the fine airs that are produced at 
the great theatres. 

8th. — Went with Vanderlyn to theatre of Port St. Martin — built in 
thirty days in time of revolution — intended for an opera — superb the- 

12th. —Went to a 15-sous ball in Palais Royal with Vanderlyn. 

The following letter, among other particulars, makes 
further mention of Vanderlyn :— 


[To Peter Irving.'] 

Paris, July, 15, 1805. 
My dear Brother : — 

. . . . In consequence of my acquaintance at the Minister's, I 
have the reading of all the American papers which he receives, so that 
I have continually opportunities of informing myself how matters go on 

at home I am very agreeably situated in respect to lodgings. 

I have taken handsome apartments in company with Mr. Bankhead, late 
secretary to Mr. Monroe. They are in a genteel hotel in the Faubourg 
St. Germain, near the Seine. Though retired from the gay, noisy part 
of the city, we have but to cross the Pont des Arts, and we are im- 
mediately among the amusements. This part of Paris is tranquil and 
reasonable, and almost all the Americans of my acquaintance reside 

One of my most intimate acquaintances is Vanderlyn ; he lives in my 
neighborhood. By the bye, I wish you would interest yourself with the 
Academy about this worthy young fellow. He has been sent out here 
by the Academy to collect casts, etc., and has executed his commission 
with faithfulness, but he is extremely in want of money. The Academy 
gave him a credit on Leghorn, in the name of Wm. M. Seton, but the 
death of that gentleman has rendered the letter useless. He has writ- 
ten repeatedly to the Academy, but has received no answer. His ob- 
ject was to go on to Italy, and he has been detained here merely for 
want of the means. Mr. McClure, one of our commissioners, has gen- 
erously patronized him, and advanced him money for the journey; he 
will therefore set off in about a fortnight. I trust the Academy will 
evince a spirit of generosity towards a young artist, whose talents and 
character do credit to our country. They are in a manner responsible, 
having already taken such marked notice of him. I beg you to attend to 
this request, and to write Vanderlyn word as soon as possible, of the dis- 
position and intentions of the Academy towards him. The poor fellow 
seems to be quite low-spirited, and to think that the Academy has for- 
gotten him ! 


By the papers I find that the Emperor is at Fontainebleau, having 
travelled incog, from Genoa to that place in eighty hours ! This is an 
instance of that promptness, decision, and rapidity that characti 
his movements. You may well suppose I am impatient to see this won- 
derful man, whose life has been a continued series of actions, any one 
of which would be sufficient to immortalize him. 

You expect, most probably, that I will say something of Paris, but 
I must beg you to excuse me. I have neither time nor inclination to 
bogin so endless a subject. I should be at a loss how to commence, and 
I am almost afraid to own that I have not taken a single note since I 
have been in this metropolis. This, however, I find to be the case with 
all my acquaintances, so that I plead for some degree of indulgence on 
that score. The city is rapidly beautifying under the auspices of the Em- 
peror ; the Louvre, Tuileries, etc., are undergoing alterations and repairs. 
The people seem all gay and happy, and vive la bagatelle I is again the 
burden of their song. 

Of all the places that I have seen in Europe, Paris is the most fascinat- 
ing, and I am well satisfied that for pleasure and amusement it must 
leave London far behind. The favorableness of the climate, the brill- 
iancy of the theatres, operas, etc., the beauty of the public walks, the 
gayety, good-humor, and universal politeness of the people, the per- 
fect liberty of private conduct, are calculated to enchant a Strang;']-, 
and to render him contented and happy with everything about him. 
You will smile to see that Paris has obtained complete possession 
of my head, but I assure you that America has still the stronghold of 
my heart. 

I am busily employed in studying the French language, and I hope 
before I leave France to have a pretty satisfactory acquaintance with it. 
I shall remain in Paris as late in the fall as possible, as there is no place 
where I can both amuse and instruct myself at less expense, and more 

When you see Mr. Hoffman present him my warmest remembrances, 
and tell him I long for the time when I shall be once more numbered 
among his disciples. 


You will excuse the shortness and hastiness of this letter, for which 1 
can only plead as an excuse that I am a young man and in Paris. 

Your affectionate brother, 

W. I. 

In what proportion the " young man in Paris " man- 
aged to combine amusement and instruction, pleasure 
and study, it would not be easy to determine. That he 
did not make complete default in his plans of improve- 
ment may be inferred from some entries in his expense 
book, by which I find he paid for two months' tuition in 
French, and bought a Botanical Dictionary. In the same 
memorandum book, under date of August 12th, occurs an 
entry of payment to " Yanderlyn for Portrait." This was 
a crayon sketch taken of him by the painter, and repre- 
sents his hair as falling over his forehead, a peculiarity 
not observable in any later likenesses. 

The letter which follows will enable us to accompany 
him to London. 

[To Peter Irving.] 

London, October 20, 1805. 
My dear Brother : — 

By the date of this letter, you will perceive that I am safely arrived in 
the land of our forefathers, and have become an inhabitant of the famous 
and foggy city of London. Thus you see I shift from city to city, and 
lay countries aside like books, after giving them a hasty perusal. Thank 
heaven my ramblings are nearly at an end, and in a little while I shall 
once more return to my friends, and sink again into tranquil domestic 
life ! It may seem strange to you, who have never wandered far from 


homo, but I assure you it is true, that in a sliort time one gets tired of 
I a veiling, even in the gay and polished countries of Europe. Curiosity 
cannot be kept ever on the stretch : like the sensual appetites it in time 
becomes sated, and no longer enjoys the formerly searched after 
with avidity. On entering a strange place at present, 1 feel no more that 
interest which prompted me on first arriving in Europe to be perpetually 
on the hunt for curiosities and beauties. In fact, the duty imposed upon 
me as a traveller to do so, is often irksome. 

On arriving at Naples, 1 became acquainted with an American gentle- 
man of talents, who had made the tour of Italy. I was much diverted 
with the manner in which he addressed his valet de place one morning, 
as we were going out in search of curiosities. "Now, my friend," said 
he, " recollect, I am tired of churches, convents, palaces, galleries of 
paintings, subterraneous passages, and great men — if you have anytliing 
else to show me, allons ! " At present I could almost feel inclined to 
make a similar speech myself. I own, notwithstanding, that London is 
extremely interesting to me, as it offers both in buildings and inhabitants 
such a contrast to the cities on the continent, and then it is so completely 
familiarized to me from having heard and read so much about it since 
my infancy, that every square, street, and lane appears like an old ac- 

I left Paris on the 22d September, in company with Mr. Gorham of 
Boston, and Mr. Massie of Virginia, and after a pleasing tour through 
the Netherlands, by the way of Brussels and Maestricht, we arrived at 
Rotterdam on the thirtieth. We had made a stop of two days at Brus- 
sels, which is one of the most beautiful cities I have seen in Europe. We 
stayed another day at Maestricht, in order to visit a remarkable cavern in 
its neighborhood, but I will not fatigue you with a description of it. I 
was much interested by the change that I continually observed as I pro- 
ceeded from ttie carelessly cultivated plains of France to those of the 
Netherlands, where the hand of labor appears to be never idle in the 
improvement of the soil ; from the dirty, comfortless habitations of the 
French peasantry, to those of Holland, where cleanliness is almost a vice: 
in fine, from the light skip and gay, thoughtless air of the Frenchman, \<\ 


the heavy tn ■! rid phi matie !• t ires of the Dutchman. How aston- 

— ,i mere ideal line — should occasion such 

[crence 1 . that neither the people, houses, 

manners, lanj . 'lould resemble each other. The Italian and 

r than the Parisian and the Hollander. 

1 | i making a hasty tour in Holland, but on arriving at 

:. I found an excellent packet about sailing for Gravesend. 

aiul repassing of these packets is connived at by the French 

rai who commands at Rotterdam, as he pockets a part of the pas- 

ney of i Dger. The vessel clears out for Embden under 

:' On mj arrival at Rotterdam, I heard a report that 

Prussia either had declared, or was about to declare in favor of France, 

quence of which the owners were fearful of sending any more 

Ingland under Prussian colors. As I dreaded any accidental 

:i in tin.' I'll' cities of Holland, I determined on availing 

I the pa I was about sailing, as did likewise my compan- 

L, I did much my not being able to see more of 

the little I had already seen, I was told, was a faithful speci- 

of tin' n st— a monotonous uniformity prevailing over the whole 


Leavii . the gentle Mynheers to smoke their pipes in peace, 

irked on the evening of the third of October, and on the morning 

led from the mouth of the Mense. The next morning on 

I had the first glimpse of old England ; we were just oppo- 

. within four or five miles of the shore. We anchored the 

: in the Thames, opposite Gravesend. As we were direct 

i an enemy's country, we were not permitted to land till permits 

•i the alii n office at London. I did not receive mine till 

• ighth suffering a detention of three days\ when I 

a shore, took a post-chaise, and arrived in the after- 

S ich is a concise sketch of my journey 

In this city, as in Paris, lie was a frequent attendant 


upon the theatres, and his impressions of John Kemble, 
Cooke, and Mrs. Siddons, are thus given in a letter to 
his brother William : — 

Kemble appears to me to be a very studied actor. His performances 
throughout evince deep study and application, joined to amazingly judi- 
cious conception. They are correct and highly-finished paintings, but 
much labored. Thus, therefore, when witnessing the exertion of his 
powers, though my head is satisfied and even astonished, yet my heart is 
seldom affected. I am not led away to forget that it is Kemble the actor, 
not Othello the Moor. Once I must own, however, I was completely over- 
powered by his acting. It was in the part of Zanga. He was great through- 
out, but his last scene with Alonzo was truly sublime. I then, in very 
truth, forgot that it was a mere mimic scene before me — indeed Kemble 
seemed to have forgotten himself, and for the moment to have fancied 
himself Zanga. When the delusion ceased I was enraptured. I was sur- 
prised at what had been my emotions. I could not have believed that tragic 
representation could so far deceive the senses and the judgment. I felt 
willing to allow Kemble all the laurels that had been awarded him. The 
next time I saw him, however, I was less satisfied. It was in the char- 
acter of Othello. Here his performance was very unequal. In many 
parts he was cold and labored ; in the tender scenes he wanted mellow- 
ness (I think him very often wanting in this quality) ; it was only in par- 
ticular scenes that he seemed to collect all his powers, and exert them 
with effect. His speech to the Senate was lofty and admirable ; indeed, 
in declamation he is excellent. The last time I saw him was in the part 
.of Jaffier, and I again remarked that it was but in certain passages that 
he was strikingly fine, though his correct and unceasing attention to the 
character was visible throughout. Kemble treads the stage with peculiar 
grace and dignity ; his figure is tall and imposing, much such an one as 
Fennell's. His countenance is noble and expressive ; in a word, he has a 
most majestic presence. I must not forget to observe that the Pierre to 
Kemble's Jaffier was acted by Mr. Hargrave, and a noisy swaggering 


bully did he make of him. I would have given anything to have had 
Cooper or Fcnnell in the character ; so you see a principal character may 
be miserably performed even on a London stage. Kemble's grand dis- 
advantage is his voice ; it wants the deep, rich, bass tones, and has not 
sufficient extent. Constant exercise has doubtless done a vast deal for it, 
and given it a degree of flexibility and softness which it had not natu- 
rally. Some of its tones are touching and pathetic, but when violent 
exclamation is necessary, it is evident from the movements of his head, 
and mouth, and chest, that he is obliged to use great exertions. This 
circumstance was at first a considerable drawback on the pleasure I re- 
ceived from his performances. I begin now to get reconciled to it, and 
not to notice it so much, which confirms me in the opinion I originally 
entertained that it is necessary to become in some degree accustomed to 
Kemble's manner before you can perfectly enjoy his acting. To give you, 
if possible, a fuller idea of my general opinion of Kemble, I shall only 
say that though at present I decidedly give him the preference, yet were 
Cooper to be equally studious and pay equal attention to his profession, I 
would transfer it to him without hesitation. It would be a long time, 
however, before Cooper woxild be equally correct in his performances. 
Perhaps he would never be so ; his style is different, and with a little 
correction, its warmth and richness would make up for the want of Kem- 
ble's correctness and precision. Actors are like painters— they seldom 
combine all these qualities, but excel in different styles. 

Cooke is the next to Kemble in the tragic department, cr rather his 
equal, taking them in their different lines. Cooke's range is rather con- 
fined; the artful designing hypocrite is his forte, and in Iago he is admir- 
able. I never was more completely satisfied with a performance. His 
Richard, I am told, is equally good, but 1 have not seen it. In Sir Pcr- 
tinax MacSycophant, also, he is everything that could be desired, and 
gives the Scotch accent with peculiar richness. Notwithstanding that he 
has disgusted the audience several times in consequence of his bacchana- 
lian festivities, he is a vast favorite, and is always hailed with the warm- 
est applause. Indeed, I am told he performs with peculiar spirit when 
inspired by the grape; he must at any rate be mellow on such occasions. 


Were I to indulge without reserve in my praises of Mrs. Sid i 
afraid you would think them hyperbolical. Whal a wonderful woman ! 
The very first time I saw her perform I was struck with admira- 
tion. It was in the part of Calista. Iler looks, her voice, her gestures, 
delighted me. She penetrated in a moment to my heart. She froze and 
melted it by turns ; a glance of her eye, a start, an exclamation, thrilled 
through my whole frame. The more I see her, the more I admire her. 
I hardly breathe while she is on the stage. She works up my Ee lings till 
I am like a mere child. And yet this woman is old, and has losl all ele- 
gance of figure; think then what must be her powers that she can dciight 
and astonish even in the characters of Calista and Belvidera. la person 
Mrs. Siddons is not unlike her sister, Mrs. Whitlock, for she has latterly 
outgrown in size the limits even of embonpoint. I even think there is 
some similarity in their countenances, though that of Mrs. Siddons is 
infinitely superior. It is in fact the very index of her mind ; and in its 
mutable transitions may be read those nice gradations of passion that 
language is inadequate to express. In dignity and grace she is no 
way inferior to Kemble, and they never appear to better advantage than 
when acting together. What Mrs. Siddons may have been when she had 
the advantages of youth and form I cannot say, but it appears to me that 
her performance at present leaves room to wish for nothing more. Age 
has planted no visible wrinkles on her brow, and it is only by the prac- 
tice and experience of years that she has been enabled to attain her pres- 
ent consummate excellence 

The enthusiasm here expressed for the great actress, 
leads me to step aside from the regular order of events 
to give an anecdote of a later date, for which I shall not 
find a more appropriate introduction. 

Not long after the " Sketch Book " had been published 
in London, and made its author remarked among its lit- 
erary circles, he met Mrs. Siddons in some fashionable 


assemblage, and was brought up to be introduced. The 
Queen of Tragedy had then long left the stage, but her 
manner and tones to the last partook of its measured 
stateliness. The interview was characteristic. As he 
approached and was introduced, she looked at him for a 
moment, and then, in her clear and deep-toned voice, she 
slowly enunciated, "You've made me weep." Nothing 
could have been finer than such a compliment from such 
a source, but the " accost " was so abrupt, and the man- 
ner so peculiar, that never was modest man so completely 
disconcerted and put out of countenance. The appropri- 
ate response would have been obvious enough at a more 
collected moment, but taken entirely by surprise, Geof- 
frey had not a word to say for himself, and very soon took 
occasion to retreat and join a group of talkers that were 
near. After the appearance of his Bracebridge Hall he 
met her in company again, and was asked by a friend to 
be presented. He told him he had before gone through 
that ceremony, but he had been so abashed by her ad- 
dress, and acquitted himself so shabbily, that he was 
afraid to claim acquaintance. " Come then with me," 
said his friend, "and I will stand by you;" so he went 
forward, and singularly enough was met with an address 
of the self-same fashion : " You've made me weep again." 
But now he was prepared, and immediately replied with 
a complimentary allusion to the melting effect of her own 
pathos, as realized by himself at the period we have been 


In the following letter we Lave an allusion to Nelson's 
victory and death. The traveller was at the theatre when 
the thrilling tidings were announced from the stage, and 
was witness to the deep and mingled emotions with 
which it was received. 

[To Peter Irving.] 

London, November 7th, 1805. 

My deae Brother : — 

By the papers you will perceive that England is all alive with the news 
of Nelson's victory. It could not have happened more opportunely, for 
the disastrous accounts from the continent had made poor John Bull qui to 
heart-sick — nothing was heard from him but execrations of Mack's con- 
duet as cowardly and treacherous, and desponding anticipations of the 
future. It is the prevalent opinion here that Mack has been bribed, and 
they are vociferous in their abuse both of him and his purchasers. 

Poor John, however, was so completely down-hearted and humble, that 
I began really to pity him, when suddenly the news of Nelson's triumph 
arrived, and the old fellow reared his broad rosy countenance higher 
than ever. To his honor, however, let me say, that I have universally re- 
marked, that whenever speaking of the affair, his first mention was of 
"poor Nelson's death," with a tribute of feeling to his memoiy ; but 
John, as I have before testified, is a " kind-hearted old soul" at bottom. 
Notwithstanding the brilliancy of this victory and its importance at so 
alarming a crisis, yet I can scarcely say which is greatest, joy at its 
achievement, or sorrow for Nelson's fall. Last evening tho chief streets 
and buildings were illuminated, but the illumination was not universal. 
The song of triumph is repressed — among the lowest of the mob I c ;m 
hear Nelson's eulogium passed from mouth to mouth ; every one yields 
his voice to the national tribute of gratitude and affection. 

Mr. Irving had anticipated on his arrival in London a 


number of introductory letters from home, that would 
have procured him an agreeable and advantageous ac- 
quaintance ; but these letters unfortunately miscarried, 
and the disappointment prevented him from fully enjoy- 
ing the pleasures of a city, in which everything bore to 
him an air of business, and in which he had, for a while, 
to find his entertainment in rambling about the streets. 
The only letter which he brought with him was one from 
Mrs. Johnson of the Park Theatre, to Miss De Camp of 
Covent Garden, which proved in the dearth of others a 
valuable resource. He had a most friendly reception 
from her, and I have heard him speak with interest of a 
dinner at her house, in which he met for the first time 
with Charles Kemble, whom she afterwards married. 

Left still more solitary by the departure of his compan- 
ions from Paris, the young traveller began to turn his 
thoughts towards home, without going to Scotland, as his 
brother had desired. As in Paris, so in London, he kept 
no journal, but it appears by a small memorandum book, 
among his papers, that he set out on the 14th of Decem- 
ber, on a short tour to Oxford, Bath, and Bristol, with a 
Mr. Mumford from New York, as a travelling companion ; 
and that the two left London, January 17th, in a post- 
chaise for Gravesend, where they embarked the next day 
in the ship Remittance, Captain Law, for New York. They 
had a stormy passage of sixty-four days, and for twenty- 
four hours were in imminent danger of going ashore in a 
snow-storm off Long Island. " The passengers," said 


Mr. Irving, in speaking of this voyage, " cracked their 
jokes on each other in great good humor at first, while 
Mumford sat like an owl, and said nothing ; but, before 
we landed, he became the greatest favorite of all. The 
familiarity of the others led to quarrels, and the jokes we 
had cracked on each other soured on our stomachs." 
vol. i.— 9 



|wpr| HE traveller bad felt a growing impatience to 

SSi&lf re turn home before lie embarked. 

■ : --*"^l "Already," lie writes in one of his letters 

prior to his departure from Europe, " I begin to feel the 

truth of the line in Voltaire, — 

<< < 

II est doux de rentrer dans sa chere patrie.'" 

There was much to gladden his return. He came 
back with health renewed and invigorated. The reputa- 
tion achieved by his scribblings before he left had made 
him an object of attention and civility, and at that "home- 
keeping" era to have visited foreign parts was of itself 
quite a title to consideration. 

New York was a more "handy" city in those days, to 
borrow a descriptive epithet of the author, and offered 
much greater facility of intercourse. No man could hide 
his light under a bushel. Everybody knew everybody, 
and there was more of good fellowship and careless ease 



of manners than distinguish the social circles of either 
sex in these more formal times. The literati and men of 
wit and intellect entered more into society, and gave to 
it something of their own tone and character. If tho 
dinners were less costly than now, they were more merry, 
and there was greater heartiness of enjoyment. Singing 
— sentimental and bacchanalian — was quite a feature in 
the entertainment. Conviviality, however, it must be 
confessed, was sometimes pushed to an extreme ; it was 
almost treason against good fellowship not to get tipsy, 
and the senseless custom of compelling guests to drink 
bumpers, not unfrequently laid many under the table 
who never would have been led willingly to such excess. 

Mr. Irving used to relate a piece of pleasantry of one 
of his early friends, Henry Ogden, illustrative of this 
feature of the dinners of those times. Ogden had been 
at one of these festive meetings on the evening before, 
and had left with a brain half bewildered by the number 
of bumpers he had been compelled to drink. He told 
Irving the next day that in going home he had fallen 
through a grating, which had been carelessly left open, 
into a vault beneath. The solitude, he said, was rather 
dismal at first, but several other of the guests fell in, in 
the course of the evening, and they had on the whole 
quite a pleasant night of it. 

Among Mr. Irving's associates at this time, few of 
whom now survive, were Peter and Gouverneur Kernble, 
Henry Brevoort, Henry Ogden, just named, and James 


K. Paulding, who, with himself, his brother Peter, and 
a few others, made up a small circle of intimates desig- 
nated by Peter as " the nine worthies," though Washing- 
ton in his correspondence more frequently alludes to 
them as " the lads of Kilkenny." 

One of their favorite resorts was an old family man- 
sion — old, at least, according to the American calendar 
of antiquity — which had descended to Gouverneur Kem- 
ble from a deceased uncle. It was on the banks of the 
Passaic, about a mile from Newark, and has been shad- 
owed forth in " Salmagundi " as Cockloft Hall. It was 
full of antique furniture, and the walls were adorned 
with old family portraits. The place was in charge of 
an old man, his wife, and a negro boy, who were its sole 
occupants except when " the nine," under the lead, and 
confident in the hospitality of the Patroon, as they styled 
its possessor, would sally forth from New York and en- 
liven its solitude by their madcap pranks and juvenile 
orgies. " Who would have thought," said Mr. Irving to 
Gouverneur Kemble, in alluding to these scenes of high 
jollity, at the age of sixty-six, "that we should ever have 
lived to be two such respectable old gentlemen ! " 

Some of the letters preserved by Mr. Irving contain 
pleasant allusions to the Hall, and show how fondly this 
scene of youthful frolic was remembered by the little 
circle in the separation of after years. " Cockloft Hall 
is still mine," writes Gouverneur Kemble to his long 
absent friend in 1824. " I still look forward to the time 


when you, Paulding, Brevoort, the Doctor [Peter Irvii 
and myself shall assemble there, recount the stories of 
our various lives, and have another game at leap frog." 

"Your mention of James Paulding and Gouverneur 
Kemble," writes Peter to him in 1832, "brings to my 
memory some of the pleasant scenes in the Hall near 
Newark, and among the rest the procession in the Chi- 
nese saloon, in which we made poor Dick McCall a 
knight, and I, as the senior of our order, dubbed him 
by some fatality on the seat of honor instead of the 
shoulder." And in a still later letter he writes : " I 
often call to mind our Sundays at the Hall, when we 
sported on the lawn until fatigued, and sometimes fell 
sociably into a general nap in the drawing-room in the 
dusk of the evening." 

One of the rendezvous of the little coterie in the city 
was Dyde's, a genteel public house in Park Eow, near 
the theatre, in which they held convivial suppers, and 
sometimes regaled their friends from Philadelphia, who, 
for the time, became " true lads of Kilkenny." 

" To riot at Dyde's on imperial champagne, 
And then scour our city — the peace to maintain," 

is a distinction of " Sad Dogs " in the rhymes of " Sal- 
magundi." There was another place of less note and 
cheaper prices, a porter-house at the corner of John 
Street and Nassau, to which they occasionally repaired 
for festivity and refreshment when their purses were low, 


.and where they probably had equal merriment, though 
these entertainments they characterized with humorous 
disparagement as their " blackguard suppers." Pauld- 
ing has an allusion to them in a letter to Washington in 
1824, recalling old times, in which he indulges in whim- 
sical lament over the degenerate transformation which 
their host had since undergone. " When I mentioned a 
jollification just now," he writes, " do you know that the 

word conjured up the idea of poor B . Alas for this 

topsy-turvy world ! He who whilom wore a long coat, 
in the pockets whereof he jingled two bushels of six- 
penny pieces, and whose daughter played the piano to 
the savory accompaniment of broiling oysters, hath sunk 
into a measurer of tape at the foot of Vesey Street." 

In July Mr. Irving concludes an epistle to his young 
friend, Henry Ogden, who had recently sailed for China, 
as follows : — 

I am so completely engrossed with law at present that I have no time 
to go about and pick up intelligence. Examination comes on in about 
three weeks, and I begin to feel the fever incident to occasions of the kind. 
I wish, while in Canton, you would pick me up two or three queer little 
pretty things, that would cost nothing, and be acceptable to the girls ; but 
above all, do not forget the Mandarin's dress. If you can conveniently, 
get two or three drawings of the most superlative tea put up in a little 
quizzical bos for me, and packed up with mighty care and importance. 
I will have some hirfi fun with it. 


The Mandarin's dress and the tea evidently point to 
some whimsical project, but whether any " high fun " came 


of it I cannot say, though there is a hint in his correspond- 
ence of Ogden's return, "laden with the riches of the East, 
some of which were intended for him," and of a supper 
at the Kembles which followed, " in true Chinese style, in 
which none were permitted to eat except with chopsticks." 

Though Mr. Irving would seem to have been prepar- 
ing for an examination in August by the preceding ex- 
tract, he must have deferred it until the autumn, for it 
was on the 21st of November, 1806, that he went through 
the ordeal and was admitted to the bar. The termina- 
tion of his clerkship, however, found him still sadly de- 
ficient in legal lore. His studies, previous to his depart- 
ure for Europe, as we have seen, had amounted to lit- 
tle ; his almost two years of absence, though computed 
in the period of clerkship, could not have enlarged the 
sphere of his legal knowledge, and the few months of his 
return previous to his admission, did not add much to 
the stock. 

Soon after his admission, I find him sharing the office 
of his brother John, at No. 3 Wall Street, and invoking 
the influence of Mr. Hoffman with the Council of Ap- 
pointment, for some professional office which he might 
turn to the advantage of both, evidently reposing for suc- 
cess in the discharge of its duties, should his application 
prevail, more on the superior legal competency and as- 
siduous business habits of his brother John than upon 
his own qualifications. I give the letter, which is ad- 
dressed to Mr. Hoffman at Albany. 


New York, February 2, 1807. 
Dear Sir: — 

I am writing this letter from your parlor, and have the pleasure of 
informing you that the family, at this moment, are perfectly well ; the 
girls all out in the sunshine; Mrs. H. sewing like a good housewife; little 
Charles sleeping up stairs, and little old fashion by my side, most studi- 
ously turning over the leaves of a family Bible. The only occurrences 
of importance that have taken place in the family, since Mrs. Hoffman 
wrote last, are, that Mr. Edgar has sent to know if you took the house 
for the ensuing year, and Mrs. Hoffman has answered in the affirmative. 
Louis has received sailing orders, and I have beaten the old lady most 
deplorably at cribbage 

Having given you all the domestic intelligence that I am master of, I 
hope you will not think it impertinent if I speak a little of myself. 

I learn with pleasure, that the council of appointment are decidedly 
Lewisite. As there will, doubtless, be a liberal dispensation of loaves and 
fishes on the occasion, I would humbly put up my feeble voice in the gen- 
eral application. Will you be kind enough to speak " a word in season " 
for me ? There will, doubtless, be numerous applicants of superior claims 
to myself, but none to whom a "crumb from the table " would be more 
acceptable. I can plead no services that I have rendered, for I have 

rather shunned than sought political notoriety I know that there 

are few offices to which I am eligible, either from age or legal informa- 
tion. My brother, John T. Irving, is much older than myself, and from 
his knowledge of the law is capacitated to fill offices to which I cannot 
pretend ; our interests are the same, as we shall share whatever falls to 
either of our lots I do not intend that you should give your- 
self any trouble on my account; your good word is all I solicit, should 
anything present which you should think suitable to me 

So little, however, does he seem intent at this time 
upon professional employment, that we find him concert- 
ing with James K. Paulding the project of " Salma- 


gundi," the first number of which appeared only two 
months after the date of his license, and prior by a few 
days to this unfruitful appeal to Mr. Hoffman. Panldi 
was then a clerk in the Loan Office, living under the same 
roof with his brother-in-law, William Irving, and used 
to amuse his leisure by scribbling satirical strictures 
for the newspapers. Washington proposed to him to 
drop that and join with him in the plan of a work which 
should be mainly characterized by a spirit of fun and sar- 
castic drollery, and should come out in numbers, and at 
such intervals as should suit their pleasure and conve- 
nience. Paulding readily fell in with the idea. They 
were afterwards joined by "Washington's eldest brother, 
William, who made up the trio, Launcelot Langstaff, 
Anthony Evergreen, and William Wizard. Peter, no 
longer editor of the "Morning Chronicle," in which 
Paulding and Washington had first tried their wings, 
would in all probability have formed a fourth if he 
had been in the city, but he had departed on a tour in 
Europe, just previous to the appearance of the first 

The work was undertaken purely for their own amuse- 
ment ; to please themselves, and with no expectation of 
pecuniary profit. If they covered the expense of paper 
and printing it was all they cared for, and the publisher, 
David Longworth, "dusky Davie," as they called him 
from a song of the period, was made to profess "the 
same sublime contempt for money with the authors." 


The work ran through twenty numbers, and was con- 
tinued one year. 

The first number appeared on the 24th of January, 
1807, and the opening article, the joint product of "Wash- 
ington and Paulding, breathes a dashing, buoyant audac- 
ity, well calculated to disturb the sobriety of Gotham. 
The second article — " From the Elbow-chair of Launce- 
lot LangstafT, Esq." — came from the pen of Paulding, and 
the two which followed, " On Theatrics," and " The New 
York Assembly," were written by Washington. 

The success of the first number was decisive. The 
sensation produced by it in the New York circles was 
intense, and great was the curiosity and speculation to 
know who were the mysterious trio, who, with such un- 
questioning confidence, had undertaken to amuse, edify, 
and castigate the town. 

The second number appeared on the 4th of February, 
of which the first article was by Washington, the second 
and third by Paulding, the poetry, signed Pindar Cock- 
loft, by William Irving, and the concluding advertise- 
ment by Washington. There is a trivial anecdote con- 
nected with this last article, which illustrates the free 
and daring humor in which the work was conceived. 
The manuscript had characterized their satirical pleas- 
antries as " good-natured raillery," which last word, by 
an expressive blunder, the printer converted into "vil- 
lainy." Whether the blunder was felicitous or not, 
there was something waggishly descriptive in the epi- 


thet which hit the humor of Washington, and ho. re- 
solved at once to retain it. The adopted misprint, 
"good-natured villainy," has stood from that day to this 
to characterize the merry mischief of their labors. 

The third number appeared on the 13th of February, 
containing, among other papers, the first of the series of 
letters from Mustapha Rub-a-dub Keli Khan, which avis 
written by Paulding, with the exception of the paragraph 
giving the account of the Tripolitan's reception on land- 
ing, which was thrown in by Washington. 

In the preface to the " Salmagundi " in Harper's uni- 
form edition of his works, Paulding remarks : " The 
thoughts of the authors were so mingled together in 
these essays, and they were so literally joint productions, 
that it would be difficult as well as useless to assign to 
each his exact share." The indication I have here given 
of their joint property in this oriental paper will elu- 
cidate the remark, though it would be pressing it beyond 
its intent and meaning to confound all the essays in a 
joint indeterminate authorship. Many of the articles 
were exclusively from the pen of Paulding ; Washington 
stood alone in the authorship of others, while William's 
participation in the work was confined to the poetry and 
the letters of Mustapha in Nos. V. and XTV., though 
to these last Washington contributed some additional 
touches. All the remaining letters of Mustapha came 
exclusively from the pen of Washington, with the excep- 
tion of that in No. XVIIL, which is to be ascribed to 


Paulding. I speak with the more confidence in this 
matter, that I have Paulding's own authority for these 
special assignments, who claims but two of the nine let- 
ters of Mustapha, and distinguishes the authorship of the 
others as I have indicated. His share in the work, how- 
ever, though it could not be accurately discriminated, 
was quite equal to that of Washington. 

The fourth number of " Salmagundi " appeared on the 
24th of February, making four numbers in a month. The 
sensation increased with every issue, and eight hundred 
copies were once disposed of in a day. They were also 
circulated in other cities of the Union, where imitations 
sprung up, went through a few numbers, and died. The 
authors were astonished at their own success, and finding 
that the work was yielding a large profit to the publisher, 
began to doubt whether some share of the advantage 
should not accrue to themselves. Washington, in par- 
ticular, who, as we have seen, had but recently taken his 
license, was by no means raised above the necessity of 
turning the unexpected success of the papers to account. 
"What arrangements have you made with the Dusky for 
the profits ? " he writes to Paulding from Yirginia, in a 
letter to be hereafter given in full ; " I shall stand much 
in need of a little sum of money on my return." 

Some months prior to the date of this extract, Long- 
worth had taken out the copyright of " Salmagundi " 
before Paulding or Irving was aware of its value, and 
all they ever received from him was a hundred dollars 


apiece, although at the time the original copyright ex- 
pired, in 1822, Paulding conjectures, in a letter to Eben- 
ezer Irving, that he had made by all accounts ten or 
perhaps fifteen thousand dollars out of it ; probably an 
extravagant estimate. Longworth had at first suggested 
a copyright to them, but they did not think it worth 
while, and he thereupon took it out himself. 

Net long after the appearance of the fourth number of 
" Salmagundi," Mr. Irving visited Philadelphia, and went 
the rounds of fashion and gayety. I give some specimens 
of his correspondence at this period. 

The letter which follows is addressed to Miss Mary 
Fairlie, a belle famed for her wit and vivacity, who was 
afterwards the wife of the eminent tragedian, Thomas A. 
Cooper. The " fascinating Fairlie," as she is styled in a 
letter of Mr. Irving, was the " Sophy Sparkle," of " Sal- 
magundi." I am indebted to the politeness of her daugh- 
ter, Mrs. Robert Tyler, for this and other letters which 
will be given to the same address. 

[To Miss Mary Fairlie.'] 

Philadelphia, March 17, 1807. 
Your charming letter has just reached me, and the post shall not de- 
part without an answer, if it is only to testify my gratitude for the exqui • 
site entertainment you have furnished me. I should have written you a 
second letter without waiting for a reply to my first ; but really, I I 
been reduced to such an extremity of nervous affliction, that I dared not 
run the hazard of being stupid. 0, my friend, how dreadfully I have 
been maltreated in this most facetious city ! The good folk of this place 


have a most wicked determination of being all thought wits and beaux 
esprits, and they are not content with being thought so by themselves, 
but they insist that everybody else should be of the same opinion, and it 
lias produced a most violent attack of puns upon my nervous system. 
The Fhiladolphians do absolutely "live and move, and have a being," 
entirely upon puns, and their wits are absolutely cut up into sixpenny- 
bits, and dealt out in small change. I cannot speak two sentences but 
that I see a pun gathering in the faces of my hearers. I absolutely shud- 
der with horror — think what miseries I suffer — me to whom a pun is an 
abomination; is there anything in the whole volume of the "miseries of 
human life " to equal it ? I experienced the first attack of this forlorn 
wit on entering Philadelphia ; it was equal to a twinge of the gout, or a 
stitch in the side. I found it was repeated at every step. I could not 
turn a corner, but that a pun was hurled at my head ; till, to complete 
my annoyance, two young devils of punsters, who began just to crow in 
the art like young bantams, penned me up in a corner at a tea-party, and 
did so bepun me, that I was reduced to absolute stupidity. I hastened 
home prodigiously indisposed, took to my bed, and was only roused there- 
from by the sound of the breakfast-bell. I have suffered more or less 
ever since ; but, thank heaven, it is a complaint of which few die, other- 
wise I should be under no small apprehension. Your message to the ele- 
gant shall be faithfully remembered. has sent him a 

handkerchief of yours, which she happened accidentally to have with her. 
I expect to see him wearing it in his bosom, or on his hat, or perhaps as 
a night-cap. He still retains a spark of faithful i-eeollection, and was 
particular in his inquiries of Brevoort, whether you were not in low spir- 
its. He called on me two or three times, and I on him, but we could not 
find each other at home ; by good fortune, however, I overtook him yes- 
terday, as he was treating his legs to an airing in Market Street. As I 
hold those ponderous supporters of his body in no inconsiderable estima- 
tion, I was particular in noticing their appearance, and am happy to say 
they are in a state of tolerable prosperity, though they have rather a pen- 
sive aspect, owing, I suppose, to the weight of misery and carcass they 
have to undergo (meaning a villainous pun, for which God forgive me). 


The dear dog was very loving in his salutation, and made several kinds 
of pulse-feeling questions. Were there not several ladies coming on from 
New York ? No ! The reply was like a guillotine ; it chopped off his 

hopes and his question at one stroke, and the unhappy relapsed 

into stupidity, and thought of the moon ! As I have no such thing as 
malice in my composition, and do love dearly to make even-body happy, 
I advised him to make New York a visit. He expressed a wish to do so. 
I begged him to go with me ; he wanted to know how soon I should go ; 
this I could not tell ; as my stay depends entirely on my whim and my 
pocket ; he seemed to listen to the proposition with complacency, and it 
shall go hard, but you will have him puffing and lumbering about your 
parlor in the course of a week or two 

I have been introduced to Mrs. D by her husband. I won't speak 

all that I think of her ; you would accuse me of hyperbole ; but, to say 
that I admire her would be too cold, too feeble. I think she would be a 
belle in heaven itself. I cannot refrain from gazing on her continually 
whenever I meet her, and were I an Eastern visionary, I should bow down 
and do her homage, as one of the Houris destined to perfect the bliss of 
true believers. This is all honest, sober fact, whatever you may think 
of it 

You need not be under any apprehensions of my forgetting New York 
while you are in it (very like a compliment) ; but I have so many engage- 
ments on hand, am so intolerably admired, and have still so much money 
in my pocket, that I really can fix no time when I shall return to my 
New York insignificance. 

I fear I shall miss the post, so, though I have a world of matter more 
to communicate, I must hastily conclude with my warmest remembrance 
to your family, and a fervent request for an immediate answer. 

P. S. — As your mamma is so kindly solicitous about my health, do not 
let her know of my being so violently indisposed with {his pun fever, par- 
ticularly as I feel myself on the recovery ever since I have read that esti- 
mable work entitled " God's Revenge against Punning." 

In her reply of March 19th, this lady begs him to try 


to come back by the next assembly, which was that day 
week and was to be the last. 

It seems that he must have returned, for a female 
correspondent at Philadelphia (March 30th) gives with 
playful extravagance the following picture of the impres- 
sion he had left behind. " As for me, my consequence 
lessens every day ; indeed I begin to think seriously of 
leaving this terrestrial paradise. Half the people exist 
but in the idea that you will one day return. When will 
pleasure return to these wretched beings? They have 
no philosophy, and ages will not reconcile them to the 
loss of your society." 

It was on this visit to Philadelphia that Mr. Irving 
made the acquaintance of Joseph Dennie, then in high 
repute as the author of the " Lay Preacher " and conduc- 
tor of the " Portfolio," and next to Charles Brockden 
Brown, the first American writer who made a profession 
of literature. 

In the eighth number of " Salmagundi," which ap- 
peared soon after, he incorporated in the character of 
Langstaff the following sketch of Dennie's peculiari- 
ties : — 

Langstaff inherited from his father a love of literature, a disposition 
for castle-building, a mortal enmity to noise, a sovereign antipathy to 
cold weather and brooms, and a plentiful stock of whimwhams. From 
the delicacy of his nerves he is peculiarly sensible to discordant sounds ; 
the rattle of a wheel-barrow is "horrible " ; the noise of children " drives 
him distracted " ; and he once left excellent lodgings, merely because the 


lady of the house wore high-heeled shoes, in which she clattered up and 
down stairs till, to use his own emphatic expression, " they made life 
loathsome " to him. He suffers annual martyrdom from the razor-edgi d 
zephyrs of our " balmy spring" ; and solemnly declares that the boasted 
month of May has become a perfect " vagabond." As some people have 
a great antipathy to cats, and can tell when one is locked up in a closet, 
so Launcelot declares his feelings always announce to him the neighbor- 
hood of a broom — a household implement which he abominates above all 
others. Nor is there any Living animal in the world that he holds in 
more utter abhorrence than what is usually termed a notable housewife — 
a pestilent being, who, he protests, is the bane of good-fellowship, and 
has a heavy charge to answer for the many offenses committed against the 
ease, comfort, and social enjoyments of sovereign man. He told me not 
long ago, " that he had rather see one of the weird sisters nourish through 
his key-hole on a broomstick, than one of the servant maids enter the 
door with a broom." 

Dennie had all the nervous irritability here ascribed to 
Langstaff, and when he read this extract he saw that he 
had been sitting for his likeness, and afterwards acknowl- 
edged to the author with evident gratification the truth 

of the portraiture. 
vol. 1. — 10 



OON after liis return from Philadelphia, his 
lively correspondent, Miss Fairlie, paid a visit 
to Boston. In the following fragment of a let- 
ter addressed to her at that place, we have an amusing 
sketch of himself and other juvenile patriots at the 
polls : — 

[To Miss Mary Fairlie.] 

New Vork, May 2, 1807. 
I thank yon a thousand times for the wish you express that I should 

write to you Well .... We have toiled through 

the purgatory of an election, and may the day stand for aye accursed 
on the Kalendar, for never were poor devils more intolerably beaten 
and discomfited than my forlorn brethren, the Federalists. What makes 
me the more outrageous is, that I got fairly drawn into the vortex, 



and before the third day was expired, I was as deep in mud and politics 
as ever a moderate gentleman would wish to be ; and I drank beer with 
the multitude ; and I talked handbill-fashion with the demagogues, and 
I shook hands with the mob — whom my heart abhorrcth. Tis tru 
the two first days I maintained my coolness and indifference. The first 
day I merely hunted for whim, character, and absurdity, according to my 
usual custom; the second day being rainy, I sat in the bar-room at the 
Seventh Ward, and read- a volume of Galatea, which I found on a shell ; 
but, before I had got through a hundred pages, I had three or four _ 
Feds sprawling around me on the floor, and another with his eyes half 
shut, leaning on my shoulder in the most affectionate manner, and spelling 
a page of the book as if it had been an electioneering handbill. But the 
third day — ah ! then came the tug of war. My patriotism all at once 
blazed forth, and I determined to save my country ! 0, mv friend, I 
have been in such holes and corners ; such filthy nooks and filthy corners, 
sweep offices and oyster cellars ! " I have been sworn brother to a leash of 
drawers, and can drink with any tinker in his own language during my 
life " — faugh ! I shall not be able to bear the smell of small beer or 
tobacco for a month to come ! . . . . 

Truly this saving one's country is a nauseous piece of business, and if 
patriotism is such a dirty virtue — prythee, no more of it. I was almost 
the whole time at the Seventh Ward — as you know that is the most fer- 
tile ward in mob, riot, and incident, and I do assure you the scent 
exquisitely ludicrous. Such haranguing and puffing and strutting among 
all the little great men of the day. Such shoals of unfledged heroes from 
the lower wards, who had broke away from their mammas, and run to 
electioneer with a slice of bread and butter in their hands. Every 
riage that drove up disgorged a whole nursery of these pigmy won 
who all seemed to put on the brow of thought, the air of bustle and busi- 
ness, and the big talk of general committee men 

I extract from the lady's reply; reminding the reader 
that, in the number of " Salmagundi " issued a few weeks 


before, there was a queer likeness of Launcelot Lang- 
staff with a preposterous length of nose. 

Boston, 11th May. 

How my heart joyed to hear of your defeat ! never did I receive a let- 
ter which gave me so much pleasure. I cannot say, however, that it was 
unexpected, as I am too good a Republican to have thought of leaving 
New York without being perfectly sure of our victory. 

You are all blown. A cute young man, an author of the Anthology, 
dined with us to-day. After having (by the way of entertaining me) 
been catechized by him on all points, he asked me the usual question of 
who was the author of " Salmagundi" ? I told him that it was not abso- 
lutely known, but that you were shrewdly suspected ; he said he thought 
so ; that he had seen you in Italy ; that the instant he saw the likeness of 
Launcelot in No. 8, he perceived it bore a strong likeness to you, indeed 
very striking ; it had your nose and the whole contour of your face ex- 
actly ; to be sure, he added, it was a little caricatured ! I forthwith 
determined to have it set in pearl, and shall evermore wear it next my 
heart, in token of the great love and kindness I bear the original ! 

Mr. Irving had made a sudden departure from New 
York before the date of this extract, and what follows is 
written in advance of its receipt. 

[To Miss Mary Fair lie.] 

Fredericksburg, Va., May 13, 1807. 
"There is a tide in the :iffairs of men," 

and a pretty rapid one too, sometimes, as witness myself all at once hur- 
ried off by the stream to this part of the Union, without a previous pro 
or con about the matter. You are, doubtless, surprised (if any movement 


of mine interests you sufficiently to occasion surprise) at my sudden tran- 
sition from New York to Virginia, without giving you an inkling of such 
an intention in my last letter. To save you, therefore, the trouble of 
wondering about the circumstance, and of running through the whole 
catalogue of certainties, probabilities, and possibilities, with their attend- 
ant hows, and whens, and whys, I merely inform you that I did not so 
much as dream of this jaunt four-and-twenty hours before my departure 
— that I am on business ; but having got into this part of the world, I 
shall spend some time in visiting my Virginia friends, 'tending Burr's 
trial, etc., etc. 

At Baltimore I made a stay of two days, during which I was toted 
about town and introduced to everybody ; in the course of which labo- 
rious occupation I encountered several very imminent hazards from the 
beauteous damsels of the place, who have the same murderous thirst for 
conquest that characterizes their sex throughout the world ; I particu- 
larly mention a Miss , a very pretty young woman. I had not been 

in her company long, before her manners alarmed my suspicions, and 
upon whispering to a gentleman next to me, I had them fidly confirmed ; 
in short, I discovered that I had fallen into the clutches of a declared 
belle; whereupon I seized my hat and retreated as rapidly as ever did his 
Highness the Duke of York. Of all things in the world, I do eschew a 
professed belle from my very soul. . . . 

I am now with my friend Colonel Mercer of Fredericksburg : to-morrow 
I set off for Richmond, and from thence almost immediately to Williams- 
burg to see Cabell, who has lately married one of the finest and richest 
girls in Virginia. 

This was his friend and travelling companion, Joseph 
C. Cabell, who had lately acknowledged the receipt of a 
gay and humorous letter from him, which convinced him 
that he was " the same Washington Irving whose name 
resounded so long in the valley of the Ticino." 


The real explanation of his sudden flight from New 
York was that he went off on an informal retainer from 
one of the friends of Colonel Burr, whose trial was ex- 
pected to take place in Richmond. His client had little 
belief in his legal erudition, and did not look for auy 
approach to a professional debut, but thought he might 
in some way or other be of service with his pen. He 
himself felt that the movements and deportment of Burr 
were likely to be highly interesting in his present cir- 
cumstances, and seems eagerly to have embraced the 
opportunity of mingling in the excitements of the trial. 
Enveloped as had been the proceedings of Burr in doubt 
and mystery, he did not at this time share in the preva- 
lent belief of his treason, and he writes to Mrs. Hoffman, 
"though opposed to him in political principles, yet I 
consider him as a man so fallen, so shorn of the power to 
do national injury, that I feel no sensation remaining but 
compassion for him." 

In the following letter to the same lady, we find him in 
attendance on the trial. 

[To Mrs. Hoffman.'] 

Richmond, June 4, 1807. 
. . . You expected that the trial was over at the time you were 
writing ; but you can little conceive the talents for procrastination that 
have been exhibited in this affair. Day after day have we been disap- 
pointed by the non-arrival of the magnanimous Wilkinson ; day after 
day have fresh murmurs and complaints been uttered ; and day after day 


are we told that the next mail will probably bring his noble self, or at 
least some accounts when he may be expected. We aro now enjoying a 
kind of suspension of hostilities ; the grand jury having been dismi 
the day before yesterday for five or six days, that they might go home, 
see their wives, get their clothes washed, and Hog their negroes. As yet 
we are not even on the threshold of a trial ; and, if the great hero of tho 
South does not arrive, it is a chance if we have any trial this term. I am 
told the Attorney-general talks of moving the Court next Tuesday, for a 
continuance and a special Court, by which means the present grand jury 
(the most enlightened, perhaps, that was ever assembled in this country) 
will be discharged ; the witnesses will be dismissed ; many of whom livo 
such a distance off that it is a chance if half of them will ever be again 
collected. The Government will be again subjected to immense expense, 
and Colonel Burr, besides being harassed and detained for an additional 
space of time, will have to repeat the enormous expenditures which this 
trial has already caused him. I am very much mistaken, if the mot . 
underhand and ungenerous measures have not been observed towartu 
him. He, however, retains his serenity and self-possession unshaken 
and wears the same aspect in all times and situations. I am impatient, 
for the arrival of this Wilkinson, that the whole matter may be put to 
rest ; and I never was more mistaken in my calculations, if the whole 
will not have a most farcical termination as it respects the charges 
against Colonel Burr 

To understand the force of this allusion to General 
James Wilkinson, then at the head of the army, and Gov- 
ernor of the Territory of Louisiana, it will be necessary 
to remember that he was supposed at the time to bo in 
some way implicated in the schemes of Burr. He h;u\ 
known him in the Eovolution, and the intimacy had con- 
tinued through a long course of years. Not a great whik 
prior to the arrest of Burr, when he was wandering iu 


the "West, they had corresponded in mysterious charac- 
ters, as if the subject of their communications required 
concealment, and though he had finally taken an active 
part in baffling his schemes and bringing him to trial, 
doubts were still entertained whether — if clear of actual 
participation in the designs of his former friend — he had 
not at least pursued a temporizing policy, until he saw 
the impending explosion. Certain it is that Burr claimed 
him as an associate, and charged him with perfidy. 

On the 24th of June the grand jury, of which the cele- 
brated John Randolph was foreman, came in with charges 
of treason and misdemeanor against Burr. Two days be- 
fore, Mr. Irving had written a letter to James K. Pauld- 
ing, which, among other matters of interest, contains a 
striking account of the first encounter of Burr and Wil- 
kinson. I give the letter. 

Richmond, June 22, 1807. 
Dear James: — 

I have been expecting a few lines from you for some time past, and am 
sorry to find you stand upon ceremony. Had I the same leisure that I 
had when in New York, you should not want for scrawls as often as you 
choose, but here I have but a few moments that are not occupied in 
attending the trial, and observing the character and company assembled 
here. I wish to know all the ne^s about our Trork, and any literary in- 
telligence that may be in circulation. I am much disappointed at your 
having concluded the first volume at No. 10. Besides making an insig- 
nificant baby-house volume, it ends so weakly at one of the weakest 
numbers of the whole. At least it is a number which is not highly satis- 
factory to me, perhaps because T wrote the greatest part of it myself, and 
that at hurried moments. I had intended concluding it in style, and 


commencing Vol. 2 with some eclat : "but let that pass." I have no 
doubt you had three special reasons for what you have done, and am con- 
tent. What arrangement have you made with the Dusky for the pro; 
I shall stand much in need of a little sum of money on my return. 
I shall endeavor to send you more matter for another number, as 
soon as I can find time and humor to write it in ; at present I have 

I can appoint no certain time for my return, as it depends entirely 
upon the trial. Wilkinson, you will observe, has arrived ; the bets were 
against Burr that he would abscond, should W. come to Richmond ; but 
he still maintains his ground, and still enters the Court every morning 
with the same serene and placid air that he would show were he brought 
there to plead another man's cause, and not his own. 

The lawyers are continually entangling each other in law points, mo- 
tions, and authorities, and have been so crusty to each other, that there is 
a constant sparring going on. Wilkinson is now before the grand jury, 
and has such a mighty mass of words to deliver himself of, that he claims 
at least two days more to discharge the wondrous cargo. The jury are 
tired enough of his verbosity. The first interview between him and Burr 
was highly interesting, and I secured a good place to witness it. Burr 
was seated with his back to the entrance, facing the judge, and convers- 
ing with one of his counsel. Wilkinson strutted into the Court, and took 
a stand in a parallel line with Burr on his right hand. Here he stood for 
a moment swelling like a turkey cock, and bracing himself up for the en- 
counter of Burr's eye. The latter did not take any notice of him until 
the judge directed the clerk to swear General Wilkinson ; at the mention 
of the name Burr turned his head, looked him full in the face with one of 
his piercing regards, swept his eye over his whole person from head to 
foot, as if to scan its dimensions, and then coolly resumed his former po- 
sition, and went on conversing with his counsel as tranquilly as ever. 
The whole look was over in an instant ; but it was an admirable one. 
There was no appearance of study or constraint in it ; no affectation of 
disdain or defiance ; a slight expression of contempt played over his 
countenance, such as you would show on regarding any person to whom 


you were indifferent, but whom you considered mean and contemptible. 
"Wilkinson did not remain in Court many minutes. 

Do write me immediately. Answer me the questions I have already 
asked, and give me all the news you hear. 

Love to Pindar and family. Yours truly, 

W. 1. 

" Pindar " was his brother "William, who wrote the 
poetical pieces of " Salmagundi " under the signature 
of Pindar Cockloft. The hurried article to which he 
objects as having been written by himself, was styled 
" The Stranger in Philadelphia." It was made up of 
satirical observations on men and manners in that city, 
but did not satisfy him, and was not retained in subse- 
quent editions. 

Mr. Irving was still absent at Richmond, when the 
number which succeeded this appeared, containing a let- 
ter from Mustapha by himself, and "Mine Uncle John," 
which is exclusively from the pen of Paulding. Of this 
finished and delightful sketch he used always to speak in 
terms of warm admiration. He ajopreciated it the more, 
no doubt, from having known the original, a veritable 
uncle of the writer. 

Though his attendance at the trial turned out a 
professional sinecure, Mr. Irving contrived to pass two 
months in Richmond very agreeably. " I have been 
treated," he writes some time before he left, " in the 
most polite and hospitable manner by the most distin- 
guished persons of the place — those friendly to Colonel 


Burr and those opposed to him, and have intimate . - 
quaintances among his bitterest; enemies. I am abso- 
lutely enchanted with Eichmond, and like it more and 
more every day. The society is polished, sociable, and 
extremely hospitable, and there is a great variety <>f 
distinguished characters assembled on this occasion, 
which gives a strong degree of interest to passing in- 

One occurrence which befell him there illustrates 
somewhat comically a romantic phase of his charac- 

Cooper, the actor, had been playing a round of charac- 
ters at Eichmond during the trial, and was requested 
to give the part of Beverly in the "Gamester," but 
he lacked the necessary equipment of small clothes. 
Whereupon Mr. Irving lent him a pair for the occasion 
— breeches being all the vogue in those days — which 
Cooper afterwards carried off to Baltimore. Here he 
discovered in the pocket a mysterious locket of hair in 
the shape of a heart, and he thereupon despatched a 
humorous half-poetical epistle to Irving to relieve the 
anxiety he presumed he might feel on account of its sup- 
posed loss. The whole lines need not be quoted, but 
after sundry inquiries as to : — 

"Where was the sylph when his fingers entwined 
The dear lock," 

he adds, — 


"Receive these inquiries, dear friend, in good part, 
And since you have locked the fair hair in your heart, 
Ne'er trust, of the girl who your fancy bewitches, 
Such an emblem of love in another man's breeches." 

The history of this " emblem of love " is curious. 
During his romantic sojourn at Genoa, Mr. Irving was 
very much taken with the beauty of a young Italian lady, 
the wife of a Frenchman. He had met her frequently in 
the social circles of Genoa, but had never been intro- 
duced to her, and was content to worship the lovely 
vision afar off. At a party which he attended just prior 
to his leaving, she dropped her handkerchief, which he, 
observing, picked up, and with more gallantry than hon- 
esty transferred to his own pocket as a secret but pre- 
cious keepsake. At Catania he had the misfortune to be 
robbed of this handkerchief. He had gone one evening 
to the cathedral of St. Agatha to be present at a fete in 
honor of the saint. The church was brilliantly lighted 
and densely filled. After moving about among the crowd 
for a Avhile, he and his naval companions, whose uniform 
denoted them to be strangers, were ushered very politely 
into the chapel of St. Agatha, separated from the rest 
of the church by a grating of gilt iron, and from hence, 
heretics as they were, they were admitted into an inner 
chapel where the bust of the saint was deposited, and 
which was generally sacred from profane intrusion. It 
was an unusual stretch of civility towards heretics, and 
here it was — in these sacred precincts — as if as a set-oft 


to the unwonted courtesy, that his pocket was picked of 
its stolen treasure. 

A history of the whole affair was despatched to hi-; 
friend Storm at Genoa, lamenting his misfortune. Tho 
latter, through some fair medium, communicated it to 
the lovely Bianca, for that was her name, who thereupon 
sent him a lock of her hair, with a request that he would 
come to see her on his return to Genoa. He did not re- 
turn that way, as we have seen, though such had been 
his intention, but the hair was inclosed in a locket and 
worn round his neck, a cherished memorial of a radiant 
vision which had once crossed his path and been seen 
no more. It was this locket which had been left in the 
borrowed breeches, and gave occasion to Cooper's witty 
jeu d' esprit. 

On his way home from Richmond, he writes the fol- 
lowing letter to his charming correspondent, Miss Fair- 
lie, which among other things gives an interesting ac- 
count of his last interview with Burr, who seems to 
have exercised over his youthful fancy that peculiar fas- 
cination for which he was so remarkable. 

[To Miss Mary Fair lie.] 

Washington City, July 7, 1807. 
The interval that has elapsed, since last I wrote to you, certainly re- 
quires some apology ; but apologies I always consider as implying some 
restraint, or ceremony, or control ; and, as I wish our correspondence to 
be perfectly free, pleasant, independent, voluntary, unconstrained, un- 


shackled, etc., etc., I am determined, though I have some half a dozen 
excellent apologies at the end of my pen, yet they shall be passed over in 
silence, or taken for granted, as best suits your humor. I feel the more 
indebted to you for the letters I have received, inasmuch as they must 
have interfered with a thousand of those splendid enjoyments by which 
you, as a declared belle, must be necessarily engrossed. Trust me, it is 
grateful to my feelings, and not a little flattering to my vanity, the proud 
idea, that, when surrounded like the grand Lama, or the immortal Josh, 
by a crowd of humble adorers, you can still think upon such an insignifi- 
cant personage as myself, and even steal away from the shrine at which 
you are worshipped, to bestow on me an hour's conversation. Inspired 
by such thoughts, I open your letters with a kind of triumph ; I consider 
them as testimonies of those brilliant moments which I have rescued from 
the buzzards that surround you ; moments, perhaps, for which some hap- 
less Damon sighed, of which he counted the tedious seconds by a stop 
watch ; fancied them puffed up into half hours or any other portly dimen- 
sions, and cursed the giant minutes as they passed ! Vain-glorious mor- 
tal that I am ! perhaps these same epistles on which I so much value 
myself are merely the effusions of some vacant hour, some interval 
between dressing and dinner, or dinner and a ball; perhaps the mere 
method by which you detassitude yourself after the fatigues of an even- 
ing's campaign, like the illustrious Jefferson, who, after toiling all day in 
deciding the fates of a nation, retires to his closet and amuses himself 
with impaling a tadpole ; but let them be written when, where, or how 
they will, be assured they will ever be received with delight, and read 
with avidity. 

I am now scribbling in the parlor of Mr. Van Ness, at whose house I 
am on a visit ; having, as you plainly perceive, torn myself from Rich- 
mond. I own the parting was painful, for I had been treated there with 
the utmost kindness, and having become a kind of old inhabitant of the 
place, was permitted to consult my own whims, inclinations, and ca- 
prices, just as I chose ; a privilege which a stranger has to surrender on 
first arriving in a place. By some unlucky means or other, when I first 
made my appearance in Richmond, I got the character, among three or 


four novel-read damsels, of being an interesting young man ; now of all 
characters in the world, believe me, this is the most intolerable for any 
young man, who has a will of his own to support; particularly in warm 
weather. The tender-hearted fair ones think you absolutely al their 
command ; they conclude that you must, of course, be fond of moonlight 
walks, and rides at daybreak, and red-hot strolls in the middle of the day 
(Fahrenheit's Thermom. 98£ in the shade), "and melting-hot— hissing- 
hot" tea-parties, and what is worse, they expect you to talk sentiment 
and act Romeo, and Sir Charles, and King Pepin all the while. 'Twas 
too much for me ; had I been in love with any one of them, I believe I 
could have played the dying swain, as eloquently and foolishly as most 
men ; but not having the good luck to be inspired by the tender passion, 
1 found the slavery insupportable ; so I forthwith set about ruining my 
character as speedily as possible. I forgot to go to tea-parties ; I over- 
slept myself of a morning ; I protested against the moon, and derided 
that blessed planet most villainously. In a word, I was soon given up as 
a young man of most preposterous and incorrigible opinions, and was left 
to do e'en just as I pleased. Yet, believe me, I did, notwithstanding, ad- 
mire the fair damsels of Richmond exceedingly; and, to be candid at 
once, the character of the whole sex, though it has ever ranked high in 
my estimation, is still more exalted than ever. I have seen traits of fe- 
male goodness while at Richmond, that have sunk deeply in my heart — 
not displayed in one or two individual instances, but frequently and gen- 
erally manifested ; I allude to the case of Colonel Burr. Whatever may 
be his innocence or guilt, in respect to the charges alleged against him 
(and God knows I do not pretend to decide thereon), his situation is such 
as should appeal eloquently to the feelings of every generous bosom. 
Sorry am I to say, the reverse has been the fact — fallen, proscribed, pre- 
judged, the cup of bitterness has been administered to him with an un- 
sparing hand. It has almost been considered as culpable to evince 1 - 
wards him the least sympathy or support; and many a hollow-hearted 
caitiff have I seen, who basked in the sunshine of his bounty, when in 
power, who now skulked from his side, and even mingled among the 
most clamorous of his enemies. The ladies alone have felt, or at least had 


candor and independence sufficient to express those feelings which do 
honor to humanity. They have been uniform in their expressions of 
compassion for his misfortunes, aud a hope for his acquittal ; not a lady, 
I believe, in Richmond, whatever may be her husband's sentiments on 
the subject, who would not rejoice on seeing Colonel Burr at liberty. It 
may be said that Colonel Burr has ever been a favorite with the sex ; but 
I am not inclined to account for it in so illiberal a manner ; it results 
from that merciful, that heavenly disposition, implanted in the female 
bosom, which ever inclines in favor of the accused and the unfortunate. 
You will smile at the high strain in which I have indulged ; believe me, 
it is because I feel it ; and I love your sex ten times better than ever. 
The last time I saw Burr was the day before 1 left Richmond. He was 
then in the Penitentiary, a land of State prison. The only reason 
given for immuring him in this abode of thieves, cut-throats, and incen- 
diaries, was that it would save the United States a couple of hundred 
dollars (the charge of guarding him at his lodgings), and it would insure 
the security of his person. This building stands about a mile and a half 
from town, situated in a solitary place among the hills. It will prevent 
his counsel from being as much with him as they deemed necessary. I 
found great difficulty in gaining admission to him, for a few moments. 
The keeper had orders to admit none but his counsel and his witnesses 
— strange measures these ! That it is not sufficient that a man against 
whom no certainty of crime is proved, should be confined by bolts, and 
bars, and massy walls in a criminal prison ; but he is likewise to be cut 
off from all intercourse with society, deprived of all the kind offices of 
friendship, and made to suffer all the penalties and deprivations of a con- 
demned criminal. I was permitted to enter for a few moments, as a 
special favor, contrary to orders. Burr seemed in lower spirits than for- 
merly ; he was composed and collected as usual ; but there was not the 
same cheerfulness that I have hitherto remarked. He said it was with 
difficulty his very servant was allowed occasionally to see him ; he had a 
bad cold, which I suppose was occasioned by the dampness of his cham- 
ber, which had lately been white-washed. I bid him farewell with a 
heavy heart, and he expressed with peculiar warmth and feeling his sense 


of the interest I had taken in his fate. I never felt in a more melancholy 
mood than when I rode from his solitary prison. Such is the last inter- 
view I had with poor Burr, and I shall never forget it. I have written 
myself into a sorrowful kind of a mood, so I will at once desist, beggin<» 
you to receive this letter with indulgence, and regard, with an eye of 
Christian charity, its many imperfections. 
Believe me, truly and affectionately, 

Your friend, 

Washington Irving. 

In the autumn of this year, Mr. Irving lost his father, 
who had long been suffering from paralysis. He died 
October 25, 1807, at the age of 76, having sustained 
through life a character for undeviating rectitude and 
the most sincere piety. Washington continued for some 
time to reside with his mother, who was left in inde- 
pendent circumstances.* 

* The dwelling in which the father died, and which the widow con- 
tinued to occupy, was one which he had purchased, and to which he had 
removed in 1802. It stood, but stands no longer, at the northwest corner 
of William and Ann Streets. 
vol. i. — 11 



jHE twentieth number of "Salmagundi," in 
which the writers take leave of the public, ap- 
peared on the 25th of January, 1808. It was an 
unexpected and abrupt discontinuance. I have heard the 
youngest of the trio say the work was given up just when 
his mind was kindling with new conceits, and he had 
designed, among other plans in embryo, a marriage of 
William Wizard with one of the Miss Cocklofts, and had 
amused himself in idea with a description of their queer 
nuptials. Paulding also intimates in the opening article 
of the number, which is written by him, that it was not 
" for want of subjects " they did not keep on, but gives 
no glimmering of the true cause, which, in fact, grew 
out of a difficulty between themselves and their pub- 
lisher, who had put the price at a shilling, and was dis- 
posed to limit somewhat dictatorially for these novices 



in authorship the quantity of matter for each num- 

The reader of " Salmagundi " at the present day must 
bear in mind that it was given to the world when our 
city scarce numbered more than eighty thousand inhab- 
itants, and that its pages are impressed with the local 
images and humors of that epoch. " Take it altogether," 
says a critic in the " North American Review," in look- 
ing back upon it, " it was certainly a production of ex- 
traordinary merit." Whatever its merit, however, in 
other eyes, Mr. Irving never valued himself much upon 
his share of it in his riper years. Paulding has an allu- 
sion to this in one of his letters to him, in which he 
says : " I know you consider old Sal. as a sort of saucy, 
flippant trollope, belonging to nobody, and not worth 
fathering." " The work was pardonable as a juvenile 
production," writes Washington to Brevoort, in 1819, 
"but it is full of errors, puerilities, and imperfections. 
I was in hopes it would gradually have gone down into 
oblivion." But this is the rigorous and over-sensitive 
estimate of his maturer years. Mr. Evert A. Duyckinck, 
in his preface to the recent volume of " Salmagundi," 
printed from the original edition with notes, gracefully 
remarks, in allusion to Mr. Irving's too slighting appre- 
ciation of the work : "We cannot suppose him insensible 
to the many excellences which the work undoubtedly 
possesses ; charms of manner and of thought springing 
from the fresh, joyous period of youth, and lending their 


grace to the brightest pages of his matured labors. ' Sal- 
magundi ' is the literary parent not only of the ' Sketch 
Book ' and the ' Alhambra,' but of all the intermediate 
and subsequent productions of Irving, even of some 
slight ornaments of the graver offspring of the ' Colum- 
bus ' and 'Washington.' There is, for instance, in one of 
the later numbers, a chapter of ' The Chronicles of the 
renowned and ancient city of Gotham,' which anticipates 
the humor of Knickerbocker ; there are traits of tender- 
ness and pathos suggestive of the plaintive sentiment of 
the ' Sketch Book ; ' and the kindly humors of the Cock- 
loft mansion are an American Bracebridge Hall." Bry- 
ant, too, in his genial and very beautiful commemorative 
address, remarks of " Salmagundi : " " Its gayety is its 
own : its style of humor is not that of Addison nor Gold- 
smith, though it has all the genial spirit of theirs ; nor 
is it borrowed from any other writer. It is far more 
frolicsome and joyous, yet tempered by a native grace- 
fulness. ' Salmagundi ' was manifestly written without 
the fear of criticism before the eyes of the authors, and 
to this sense of perfect freedom, in the exercise of their 
genius, the charm is probably owing, which makes us 
still read it with so much delight. Irving never seemed 
to place much value on the part he contributed to this 
work, yet I doubt whether he ever excelled some of those 
papers in ' Salmagundi,' which bear the most evident 
marks of his style ; and Paulding, though he has since 
acquired a reputation by his other writings, can hardly 


be said to have written anything better, than the best of 
those which are ascribed to his pen."* 

" Salmagundi " was reprinted in London in 1811, and 
critically noticed in the " Monthly Review." "I don't 
know whether I mentioned to you " [writes Washington 
to his brother William], "that 'Salmagundi' has been 
reviewed in the London 'Monthly Review,' and much 
more favorably than I had expected. The faults they 
point out are such as I had long been sensible of, and 
they seem particularly to attack the quotations and the 
Latin interwoven in the poetry, which certainly does halt 
most abominably in the reading. On the whole, how- 
ever, I think we came off very handsomely, and I only 
hope the other critics may be as merciful." 

It was not long after the completion of " Salmagundi " 
that Mr. Irving resumed his literary labors. Peter had 
returned from a year's absencs in Europe, just before 
the appearance of the last number, and in conjunction, 
as the younger informs us in the account of its composi- 
tion, the two brothers commenced the " History of New 
York." The first idea of the work was a mere jeu <V esprit 
in burlesque of Dr. Samuel Mitchill's, " Picture of New 
York," then just published, and with this view they took 
a vast quantity of notes, in emulation of the erudition 

- A Discourse on the Life, Character, and Genius of Washington 
Irving, delivered before the New York Historical Society, at the Academy 
of Music, in New York, on the 3d of April, 1860, by William Cullen 


displayed in the commencement of that work, which be- 
gan with an account of the Aborigines. They started, 
therefore, with the creation of the world. The author 
has informed us how this idea expanded into a different 
conception, after the departure of his brother a second 
time for Europe; but it would seem that the original 
plan of the work must have been near its fulfillment, as 
early as April 30, 1808, as I find a letter of that date from 
his brother Peter to him, in which he says : " I presume 
you must be aware esta obra " (the language used to des- 
ignate it — being the Spanish for " that work ") " must 
terminate for the present at the point at which I left it. 
It should, therefore, be completed without loss of time, 
and I entreat you either to whip your imagination into a 
gallop, or to leave it for an uncomplying jade, and saddle 
your judgment. If you do not, I shall have to give the 
thing such a hasty finish as circumstances may permit, 
immediately on my return — for my pocket calls aloud 
and will not brook delay." At the date of this letter the 
writer was at Schenectady, on his way to Johnstown, to 
visit a sick sister (Mrs. Dodge). The next day he met 
very unexpectedly, at the same place, the party to whom 
it was addressed, Washington having left New York on 
the 28th, on a sudden mission to Montreal, and having 
diverged at Albany to Schenectady. Here he prevailed 
on Peter to defer his visit to Johnstown, and accompany 
him to Montreal ; and the two brothers, partners in 
pleasure as in purse, proceeded together to that place. 


On his return, Washington hears, at Saratoga Springs, 
of his sister's death. 

The following letter was written the next day, at Al- 
bany : — 

[To Mrs. Hoffman.] 

_, _ Alb ant, June 2, 1808. 

My dear Friend : — 

I have just arrived in Albany, and found two letters from you and Mr. 
Hoffman, so kind and so affectionate that I cannot express to you how 
grateful they were to my feelings. My journey has been tedious and un- 
pleasant, but it is so far over, and past fatigues are soon forgotten. 

On the road, as I was travelling in high spirits with the idea of home to 
inspire me, I had the shock of reading an account of my dear sister's 
death, and never was a blow struck so near my heart before. Five years 
have nearly elapsed since I have seen her, and though such an absence 
might lessen the pang of eternal separation, still it is dreadfully severe. 
One more heart lies still and cold that ever beat towards me with the 
warmest affection, for she was the tenderest, best of sisters, and a woman 
of whom a brother might be proud 

To-morrow morning early I set off for Johnstown. Would to Heav< n 
that I had gone there a month ago 

On returning to Albany from Johnstown, he had the 
novel luxury of descending the Hudson by steamboat ; 
leaving, as his record testifies, June 8th, at 8 A. m., and 
arriving in New York the next evening. 

In December of this year, Mr. Irving made a second 
trip to Montreal, on business for a commercial house in 
New York. It was a sad disappointment to him, upon 
his return, to find that his brother Peter had sailed 
again for Europe. He had gone out to Liverpool, about 


the 1st of January, on pressing business for his brother 
William's house, Irving & Smith, leaving Washington to 
proceed with the " History of New York." It was then 
that the latter changed the whole plan of the work, and, 
discarding what had reference to a later period than the 
Dutch dynasty, and grappling with the other mass of 
notes, undertook to frame a work according to his new 
conception. I have heard him say he had hard work to 
condense into its present shape the ponderous mass of 
notes which had been taken for the first book, as a bur- 
lesque of erudition and pedantry ; that he managed, with 
infinite labor, to compress it into five introductory chap- 
ters, and in subsequent editions would have been glad to 
compress these into one, but was deterred from under- 
taking it by the labor it would cost. The residue of the 
book was exclusively his, and I cannot but regard it as 
a fortunate circumstance, that it was not completed in 
conjunction, for Peter had not the rich comic vein of 
Washington ; and though his taste was pure and classic, 
it was a little too nice and fastidious not to have some- 
times operated as a drawback upon the genial play of his 
brother's exuberant humor. 

The " History of New York " was far advanced towards 
its completion, when Mr. Irving was called to encounter 
a blow which left him for a while little heart for his 
work, and probably gave a color to his whole future ex- 
istence. For some months past, the partiality with which 
he had regarded the second daughter of Mr. Hoffman 


had deepened into a serious passion, and the point to 
which all his hopes "were turning lay in a union with her. 
He was not one, however, to have been easily instigated 
to the imprudence of involving another in his own lot 
without some "sober certainty" of income. "I think," 
he writes in one of his later letters, " these early and im- 
provident marriages are too apt to break down the spirit 
and energy of a young man, and make him a hard-work- 
ing, half-starving, repining animal all his days." Some- 
times his sense of the imprudence of early matrimony, 
where the lover is without the means of maintaining a 
wife, would appear in a playful illustration. " Young 
men in our country," he would say, "think it a great 
extravagance to set up a horse and carriage without ade- 
quate means, but they make no account of setting up a 
wife and family, which is far more expensive." But in 
proportion as he felt the improvidence of such a step, in 
the same degree did he feel his own precarious prospects, 
and the necessity of bettering his condition. His letters 
to Peter, of this period, are unfortunately lost, but the 
replies of the latter have been preserved, and show what 
uncongenial plans he was sometimes revolving to advance 
his fortunes. " I am averse," says this brother, in a letter 
dated Liverpool, March 9th, 1809, "to any supercargo- 
ship, or anything that may bear you to distant or un- 
friendly climates. I would not take one of those cursed 
India voyages — hardly — for a young fortune." Other let- 
ters contain intimations of his repining at being unem- 


ployed in some means of steady livelihood ; and of plans 
and purposes which were passing through his mind, evi- 
dently pointing to some advantage which might place 
him in a condition to link another's fortunes with his 
own. In the midst of these came the blow, by which the 
dearest hojDe of his life was forever overthrown. 

Matilda Hoffman, the intended sharer of his lot in life, 
closed her brief existence in the city of New York, on the 
26th of April, 1809, in the eighteenth year of her age. 
Though not a dazzling beauty, she is described as lovely 
in person and mind, of the most gentle and engaging 
manners, and with a sensibility that mingled gracefully 
with a delicate and playful humor. In a letter to Wash- 
ington, written just after the tidings of her death had 
reached him, Peter has this allusion to her: "May her 
gentle spirit have found that heaven to which it ever 
seemed to appertain ! She was too spotless for this con- 
taminated world." It is an indication of the depth of the 
author's feeling on this subject, that he never alluded to 
this part of his history, or mentioned the name of Matilda 
even to his most intimate friends ; but after his death, in 
a repository of which he always kept the key, a package 
was found, marked on the outside "Private Me ins.;" 
from which he would seem to have once unbosomed him- 
self. This memorial was a fragment, of which the begin- 
ning and end were missing. The ink was faded, and it 
was without address, but it has since appeared, from the 
testimony of a daughter, that it was addressed to Mrs. 


Amelia Foster, an English lady whom, as will be seen 
hereafter, he met at Dresden at the close of 182.!, and 
with whose family, during his sojourn in that city, he 
became extremely intimate. The daughter says : " It \\ as 
left with us under a sacred promise that it should be 
returned to him ; that no copy should be taken ; and that 
no other eyes but ours should ever rest upon it. The 
promise was faithfully kept" — which will account for its 
remaining among his papers. The communication was 
evidently the result of inquiries about his early history, 
and how it happened he had never married, for towards 
its close, after recounting the story of his youthful love, 
and its sad termination, he says : "You wonder why I am 
not married. I have shown you why I was not long since. 
My time has now gone by, and I have grow- 
ing claims upon my thoughts, and my means, slender and 
precarious as they are." 

"With these private memoranda was found a miniature 
of great beauty, inclosed in a case, and in it a braid of 
fair hair, and a slip of paper, on which was written in his 
own handwriting, " Matilda Hoffman." 

The two months succeeding the death of Matilda, were 
spent in the retirement of the country, at the house of 
his Mend, Judge William P. Van Ness, at Kinderhook, 
afterwards the residence of President Van Buren. 

It is a striking evidence how little Mr. Irving was ever 
disposed to cultivate or encourage sadness, or suffer his 
"melancholy to sit on brood," that he should be engaged 


during this period of sorrow and seclusion, in revising 
and giving additional touches to his "History of New 
York." In the private communication before mentioned, 
in alluding to this period, he says : " Tv T hen I became 
more calm and collected, I applied myself, by way of 
occupation, to the finishing of my work. I brought it to 
a close, as well as I could, and published it ; but the time 
and circumstances in which it was produced, rendered 
me always unable to look upon it with satisfaction." 

Although the poignancy of his grief had worn away 
when he returned to the city, his countenance long re- 
tained the trace of melancholy feelings. A portrait by 
Jarvis, taken some months afterwards, and conceded 
without dissent at that time, to be a faithful and ad- 
mirable likeness, is remarkable for its expression of pen- 
sive refinement. Mr. Irving never alluded to this event 
of his life, nor did any of his relatives ever venture, in 
his presence, to introduce the name of Matilda. I have 
heard of but one instance, in which it was ever obtruded 
upon him, and that was by her father, Mr. Hoffman, 
nearly thirty years after her death, and at his own house. 
A granddaughter had been requested to play for him 
some favorite piece on the piano, and in extracting her 
music from the drawer, had accidentally brought forth 
a piece of embroidery with it. " Washington," said Mr. 
Hoffman, picking up the faded relic, "this is a piece of 
poor Matilda's workmanship." The effect was electric. 
He had been conversing in the sprightliest mood before, 


and he sunk at once into utter silence, and in a few mo- 
ments got up and left the house. 

It is an evidence with what romantic tenderness M . 
Irving cherished the memory of this early love, that he 
kept by him, through life, the Bible and Prayer-book < >f 
Matilda. He lay with them under his pillow, in the first 
days of keen and vivid anguish that followed her loss ; 
and they were ever afterwards, in all changes of climate 
and country, his inseparable companions. 

Perhaps the following anecdote may be regarded as of 
kindred significance. But two or three years before 
his death, in the course of an interesting conversa- 
tion with a niece, who was visiting him, he was led to 
descant upon the solitude of a life of celibacy ; and then, 
as if suddenly struck with the incongruity of his own 
practice, he remarked to her in a half-playful, half- 
mournful way, "You know I was never intended for a 
bachelor." She did not, of course, intrude upon the 
sacredness of his recollections to inquire how it hap- 
pened he had never married ; but a few hours after- 
wards, as if furnishing his own solution to the enigma, 
he handed her a piece of poetry, with the remark, 
"There's an autograph for you." She took it and c;: 
ing her eye upon the paper, perceived it to be a copy 
of those noble lines of Campbell, "What's hallowed 
ground?" It was in his own handwriting, and bore 
the marks of having been transcribed years before. I 
quote some of the stanzas : — 


"That's hallowed ground, where, mourned and miss'd, 
The lips repose our love has kiss'd : — 
But where's their memory's mansion ? Is't 

Yon churchyard's bowers ? 
No ! in ourselves their souls exist, 

A part of ours. 

" A kiss can consecrate the ground 
Where mated hearts are mutual bound ; 
The spot where love's first links were wound, 

That ne'er are riven, 
Is hallowed down to earth's profound, 

And up to heaven. 

" For time makes all but true love old ; 
The burning thoughts that then were told 
Run molten still in memory's mould, 

And will not cool 
Until the heart itself be cold 

In Lethe's pool." 

It is in the light of this event of Mr. living's history, 
that we must interpret portions of his article on " Rural 
Funerals " in the " Sketch Book," and also that solemn 
passage in " St. Mark's Eve," in " Bracebridge Hall," be- 
ginning, " There are departed beings that I have loved as 
I never shall love again in this world — that have loved 
me as I never again shall be loved." To this sacred 
recollection also, I ascribe this brief record, in a note- 
book of 1822, kept only for his own eye : " She died in 
the beauty of her youth, and in my memory she will ever 
be young and beautiful." 



| HE first letter I find, after his return from Kin- 
derhook, is addressed to his brother Peter, from 
which I make the following extract : — 

. . . . I am really at a loss what to write to you about. I have 
been so little abroad in the world since my return from Van Ness' that I 

know nothing how matters are going on My health has 

been feeble and my spirits depressed, so that I have found company very 
irksome, and have shunned it almost entirely. I propose setting out on 
an expedition to Canada with Brevoort on Saturday next, to be al 
sixteen days. There is a steamboat on the lake which makes the journey 
sure and pleasant. I trust the jaunt will perfectly renovate me. On my 
return I shall go to Mr. Hoffman's retreat at Hellgate, and prepare 
obra for a launch 

We are all well. Irving & Smith are highly satisfied with your a 
duity. I refer you to Hal and Sally for family particulars. 

The "Hal and Sally" here mentioned, were Henry 
Van "Wart and his wife, the youngest sister of Mr. Irving. 



Mr. Van Wart had engaged in business in England, just 
after his marriage in 1806, in connection with the house 
of Irving & Smith in New York ; he had returned to this 
country in 1808, under an apprehension of impending 
war between the United States and Great Britain, and 
was now about to go back, to find in England his perma- 
nent home. 

The country retreat spoken of, in which Mr. Irving was 
to prepare his " History of New York " for publication, 
was delightfully situated at Ravenswood, near Hellgate. 
He passed much of his time here in August and Sep- 
tember, and had a boat at command belonging to his 
friend Brevoort, called The Tinker, in which he used to 
ply between the city and this summer residence of the 

In the November succeeding, Mr. Irving repaired to 
Philadelphia, to superintend the publication of his " His- 
tory of New York." He adopted the expedient of putting 
it to press in that rather than his native city, to prevent, 
as far as possible, any idea of the real character of the 
work from getting wind in advance of its appearance. 
At the same time curiosity was awakened in New York, 
by a series of preparatory advertisements, foreshadowing 
its appearance, without betraying its grotesque and mock- 
heroic qualities. These were afterwards collected by me 
at his request, and inserted by him after " The Author's 
Apology," in the introduction to his revised edition of 
Knickerbocker in 1848. 


The first of these Notices appeared in the "Evening 
Post " about six weeks prior to the publication, and was 
as follows : — 


Left his lodgings some time since, and has not since been hoard of, a 
small elderly gentleman, dressed in an old black coat and cocked hat, by 
the name of Knickerbocker. As there are some reasons for believing ho 
is not entirely in his right mind, and as great anxiety is entertained 
about him, any information concerning him left either at the Columbian 
Hotel, Mulberry Street, or at the office of this paper, will be thankfully 

P. S. — Printers of newspapers would be aiding the cause of humanity 
in giving an insertion to the above. — Oct. 25. 

In less than a fortnight this was followed by another : — 

To the Editor of the "Evening Post " .•— 

Sir:— Having read in your paper of the 26th October last a paragraph 
respecting an old gentleman by the name of Knickerbocker, who was 
missing from his lodgings ; if it would be any relief to his friends, or 
furnish them with any clue to discover where he is, you may inform them 
that a person answering the description was seen by the passengers of the 
Albany stage early in the morning about four or five weeks since, resting 
himself by the side of the road a little above Kingsbridge. He had in his 
hands a small bundle tied in a red bandana handkerchief ; he appe 
to be travelling northward, and was very much fatigued and exhausted. 

Nov. 6, 1809. A Travell. k. 

To this succeeded, in ten days, a letter signed by Beth 
Handaside, landlord of the Independent Columbian Ho- 
tel, Mulberry Street : — 

VOL. I.— 12 


Sir : — You have been good enough to publish in your paper a para- 
graph about Mr. Dicdrich Knickerbocker, who was missing so strangely 
from his lodgings some time since. Nothing satisfactory has been heard 
of the old gentleman since ; but a very curious kind of a written book 
has bee* found in his room in his own handwriting. Now I wish you to 
notice him, if he is still alive, that if he does not return and pay off his 
bill, for board and lodging, I shall have to dispose of his Book, to satisfy 
me for the same. 

This device to call attention to the appearance of the 
forthcoming work was sufficiently ingenious and original, 
and it is an amusing incident, in this connection, that 
one of the city authorities found his sympathies so much 
enlisted by the appeal, as to call on the author's brother, 
John T. Irving, and consult him on the propriety of 
offering a reward for the discovery of the missing Die- 

Though the author had carried the manuscript in a 
complete state to Philadelphia, yet he afterwards made 
some additions, as was not unusual with him, as the 
work was going through the press. It was here that he 
wrote the voyage of Peter Stuyvesant up the Hudson, 
and the enumeration of the army. Coming home late 
one night, and finding himself locked out of his lodgings, 
he repaired to the quarters of a bachelor friend, but 
could not sleep after obtaining admittance. It was then 
that the idea of that journey flashed through his mind ; 
and so rapidly did the images crowd upon him, that he 
rose from the bed to strike a light, and write them down 


— but he could not find the candle, and after stumbling 
about for awhile, to the annoyance of his sleepy but 
wondering companion, he managed to get hold of a piec ■ 
of paper, and jot down some of his impressions in pencil 
in the dark. The next morning he stopped the press, 
until he had finished his picture and secured its ad- 

On the 6th of December, 1809, appeared the advertise- 
ment of its actual publication, in these words : — 



In 2 vols, duodecimo— price 3 dollars. 

Obtaining an account of its discovery and settlement, with its internal 
policy, manners, customs, wars, etc., etc., under the Dutch government, 
furnishing many curious and interesting particulars never before pub- 
lished, and which are gathered from various manuscripts and other 
authenticated sources, the whole being interspersed with philosophical 
speculations and moral precepts. 

This work was found in the chamber of Mr. Diedrich Knickerbocker, 
the old gentleman whose sudden and mysterious disappeararce has been 
noticed. It is published in order to discharge certain debts ho bas left 

This advertisement, it will be seen, is unpromising 
enough, and awakens no expectation but of a sober mat- 


ter-of-fact history of our Dutch progenitors — an impres- 
sion which the covert humor of its dedication, "To the 
New York Historical Society," " as a humble and un- 
worthy testimony of the profound veneration and ex- 
alted esteem of the Society's sincere well-wisher and 
devoted servant, Diedrich Knickerbocker," would no 
doubt help to confirm. It is easy, therefore, to imagine 
the astonishment of many, on taking up the work, to find 
that the author had seized upon " the events which com- 
pose the history of the three Dutch governors of New 
York, merely as a vehicle to convey a world of satire, 
whim, and ludicrous description." 

I give a contemporaneous notice of the work from the 
" Monthly Anthology and Boston Review," the precursor 
of the "North American." The notice begins with a 
short sketch of the original possession of the country by 
a few Dutch colonists, and its erection into an English 
province in 1664, and proceeds : 

The meagre annals of this short-lived Dutch colony have afforded the 
groundwork for this amusing book, -which is certainly the wittiest our 
press has ever produced. To examine it seriously in a historical point of 
view would be ridiculous ; though the few important events of the period 
to which it relates are, we presume, recorded with accuracy as to their 
dates and consequences. 

These materials, which would hardly have sufficed to fill a dry journal 
of a few pages, are here extended to two volumes. They only compose 
the coarse net-work texture of the cloth, in which the author has embroid- 
ered a rich collection of wit and humor. The account of these honest 
Dutch governors has been made subservient to a lively flow of good- 


natured satire on the follies and blunders of the present day, and th ■ 
plexities they have caused. 

The great merit, and indeed almost the only one, which the varied 
labors of former times have left to the literature of the present day, apt- 
ness and fertility of allusion, will be found almost to satiety in tl 
pages. Those who have a relish for light humor, and are pleased with 
that ridicule which is caused by trifling, and, to the mass of the world, 
unobserved relations and accidents of persons and situations, will be often 
gratified. They will soon perceive that the writer is one of those priv- 
ileged beings, who, in his pilgrimage through the lanes and streets, the 
roads and avenues of this uneven world, refreshes himself with manv 
a secret smile at occurrences that excite no observation from the dull, 
trudging mass of mortals. ' ' The little Frenchmen, skipping from the 
Battery to avoid a shower, with their hats covered with their handker- 
chiefs;" the distress of the "worthy Dutch family" annoyed by the 
vicinage of "a French boarding-house," with all its attendant circum- 
stances, even down to "the little pug-nose dogs that penetrated into then- 
best room," are examples, among many others, of this disposition. The 
people of New England are the subjects of many humorous remarks, but 
we are glad to observe made with so much good-nature and mingled com- 
pliment and satire, that they themselves must laugh. 

Many of the descendants of the original colonists, how- 
ever, looked at it with a less indulgent eye. This irrev- 
erent handling of their Dutch ancestors, and conversion 
of the field of sober history into a region of comic ro- 
mance, was not to their taste. " Your good friend, the 
old lady," writes Mrs. Hoffman to him, at Philadelphia, 
on its first appearance, " came home in a great stew this 
evening. Such a scandalous story had got about town — 
a book had come out, called a ' History of New York ; ' 


nothing but a satire and ridicule of the old Dutch peo- 
ple — and they said you was the author ; but from this 
foul slander, I'll venture to say, she has defended you. 
She was quite in a heat about it." The old lady here 
alluded to was the mother of Josiah Ogden Hoffman. 

If some of the Dutch were nettled, others perceived 
that the work was written in pure wantonness of fun, 
without a particle of malevolence, and were willing to 
laugh with the rest of the community, over pages of 
which a correspondent of a Baltimore paper wrote at the 
time : " If it be true, as Sterne says, that a man draws a 
nail out of his coffin every time he laughs, after reading 
Irving's book your coffin will certainly fall to pieces." 

Walter Scott was the first transatlantic author to bear 
witness to the merit of Knickerbocker. In the following 
letter to Henry Brevoort, who had presented him with a 
copy of the second edition in 1813, he writes : — 

My dear Sir : — 

I beg you to accept my best thanks for the -uncommon degree of enter- 
tainment which I have received from the most excellently jocose history 
of New York. I am sensible, that as a stranger to American parties and 
politics, I must lose much of the concealed satire of the piece, but I must 
own that looking at the simple and obvious meaning only, I have never 
read anything so closely resembling the style of Dean Swift, as the annals 
of Diedrich Knickerbocker. I have been employed these few evenings in 
reading them aloud to Mrs. S. and two ladies who are our guests, and our 
sides have been absolutely sore with laughing. I think, too, there are 
passages, which indicate that the author possesses powers of a different 
kind, and has some touches which remind me much of Sterne. I beg you 


\rill have the kindness to let me know when Mr. Irving takes pen in hand 

again, for assuredly I shall expect a very great treat which 1 may chance 

never to hear of but through your kindness. 

Believe me, dear sir, 

Your obliged humble servant, 

Walter Scott. 
Abbotsford, 23 April, 1813. 

It was some years after the date of this letter, that his 
friend, Gulian C. Verplanck, in an anniversary discourse, 
delivered before the New York Historical Society, De- 
cember 7, 1818, when the author was in Europe, took 
occasion to allude to this burlesque history in a spirit 
of regret, at the injustice done by it to the Dutch char- 
acter. " It is painful," he says, " to see a mind as ad- 
mirable for its exquisite perception of the beautiful, as 
it is for its quick sense of the ridiculous, wasting the 
riches of its fancy on an ungrateful theme, and its ex- 
uberant humor in a coarse caricature." 

This censure was much softened by the complimentary 
remarks which followed, which nevertheless did not pre- 
vent his brother Ebenezer, who feared its effect upon a 
new edition of the work which had just been put to press 
in Philadelphia, from giving vent to some vexation on the 
subject in a letter to Washington. The latter writes, in 
reply : 

I have seen what Verplanck said of my work. He did me more than 
justice in what he s:iid of my mental qualifications ; and he said nothing 
of my work that I have not long thought of it myself He is 


one of the honestest men I know of, in speaking his opinion. There is a 
determined candor about him, which will not allow him to be blinded by 
passion. I am sure he wishes me well, and his own talents and acquire- 
ments are too great to suffer him to entertain jealousy ; but were I his 
bitterest enemy, such an opinion have I of his integrity of mind, that I 
would refer any one to him for an honest account of me, sooner than to 
almost any one else. 

To Brevoort, to whom he had just transmitted across 
the Atlantic the first number of the " Sketch Book," 
which included the story of " Kip Van Winkle," he al- 
ludes to these critical strictures in a more playful vein. 
After a high compliment to the oration of Verplanck, he 
adds : — 

I hope he will not put our old Dutch burghers into the notion that they 
must feel affronted with poor Diedrich Knickerbocker, just as he is about 
creeping out in a new edition. I could not help laughing at this burst of 
filial feeling in Verplanck, on the jokes put upon his ancestors ; though I 
honor the feeling, and admire the manner in which it is expressed. It 
met my eyes just as I had finished the little story of "Rip Van Winkle," 
and I could not help noticing it in the introduction to that bagatelle. I 
hope Verplanck will not think the article is written in defiance of his 
Vituperation. Remember me heartily to him, and tell him I mean to 
grow wiser, and better, and older, every day, and to lay the castigation 
lie has given seriously to heart. 

The avails of the first edition of Knickerbocker, I have 
heard Mr. Irving say, amounted to about three thousand 

Soon after its publication he was urged by his friends 


to offer himself at Albany as a candidate for a clerkship 
in one of the Courts in New York. He could plead no 
party services, for he had shunned rather than sought 
political notoriety, but his brother-in-law, Daniel Paris, 
was a member of the Council of Appointment, and ready 
to forward his interest, and this presented an opportunity 
to provide for his maintenance and give him leisure for 
literary pursuit, which it was urged he ought not to lose. 
He failed to get the post, however, mainly through the 
counterworking of some candidates for other offices, who 
sought, by such manoeuvre, to compel the support of 
Paris to their claims. The integrity of Paris, however, 
was of too stubborn a mould for such a game. 
I insert two letters written during his absence. 

{To Mrs Hoffman.'] 

Johnstown, Feb. 12, 1810. 

My dear Friend :— 

I wrote Mi*. Hoffman a hasty letter from Albany, uncertain whether it 
would reach New York before his departure, and should have written him 
again, but that I concluded from what he told me before I left the city, 
that he would start for Albany on Saturday last. His presence has I 
anxiously looked for at Albany, and I am in hopes he will arrive thi ra 
either this evening or to-morrow. I stayed three days there, and then 
left it for Johnstown ; though I could have passed several days then' with 
much satisfaction, in attending the profound discussions of the Senate 
and Assembly ; and the movements of the crowd of office-hunters, who, 
like a cloud of locusts, have descended upon the city to devour every 
plant and herb, and every "green thing." The anxiety I felt, however, 


to see my sister induced me to hasten my departure, and one or two other 
considerations of trifling moment, concurred in urging me on 

Your city is no doubt waiting with great solicitude to hear of the pro- 
ceedings of the Council of Appointment. The members have a difficult 
task allotted them, and one of great responsibility. It is impossible they 
should avoid disappointing many, and displeasing more, but the peculiar 
circumstances in which they are placed entitle them to every indulgence. 
I wish Mr. H. had started when I did ; his presence would, I think, have 
been of infinite service. 

I can give you nothing that will either interest you or yield you a mo- 
ment's amusement. I have witnessed nothing since my departure but 
political wrangling and intriguing, and this is unimportant to you; and 
my mind has been too much occupied by worldly cares and anxieties to 
be sufficiently at ease to write anything worthy perusal. Add to this, I 
have been sick either from a cold, or the intolerable atmosphere of rooms 
heated by stovoe, and have been disgusted by the servility, and duplicity, 
and rascality I have witnessed among the swarms of scrub politicians who 
crawl about the great metropolis of our State like so many vermin about 
the head of the body politic ; excuse the grossness of this figure, I entreat 

I have just written to Peter Kemble, and strangely forgot to tell him 
(being a brother sportsman) that I had just returned from a couple of 
hours' bushbeating, having killed a brace of partridges and a black squir- 
rel ! Give my love to all, and believe me ever affectionately, 

Your Friend, 

W. I. 

The following letter was written after he had renounced 
all hopes of success, and gives an amusing picture of his 
reception at the head-quarters of Dutch domination, and 
his success in mollifying the wrath of some of the older 
families who had felt themselves aggrieved in the liber- 
ties taken with their ancestors. 


[ To 3frs. Hoffman. ] 

Albant, Feb. 20, 1810. 

My dear Friend : — 

I have just left Mr. Hoffman, who is suffering under a severe attack of 
the sick headache, and groaning in his bed most piteously. Since lasl I 
wrote you, I have relinquished all cares and thoughts about an appoint- 
ment, and am now merely remaining in Albany to witness the interesting 
scenes of intrigue and iniquity that are passing under my eye— to inform 
myself of the manner of transacting legislative business, with which I 
was before but little acquainted — to make myself acquaint) d with the 
great and little men of the State whom I find collected here, and lastly to 
enjoy the amusements and society of this great metropolis. I think 
I have most bountiful variety of occupation. You will smile, perhaps, 
when I tell you, that in spite of all my former prejudices and preposses- 
sions, I like this queer little old-fashioned place more and more, the 
longer I remain in it. I have somehow or another formed acquaintance 
with some of the good people, and several of the little Yffrouws. ana 
have even made my way and intrenched myself strongly in the parlors of 
several genuine Dutch families, who had declared utter hostility to me. 
Several good old ladies, who had almost condemned my book to the 
flames, have taken me into high favor, and I have even had the hardi- 
hood to invade the territories of Mynheer Ilans , and lay siege to 

his beauteous daughter, albeit that the high blood of all the burghers of 

the family was boiling against me, and threatening mo with utti r 


So passes away the time. I shall remain here some day-, longer, and 
then go to Kinderhook. What time I shall return to New York I cannot 
tell. I have no prospect ahead, nor scheme, nor air castle to engage my 
mind withal ; so that it matters but little where I am, and perhaps I 
cannot be more agreeably or profitably employed than in Van Ness 
library. I shall return to New York poorer than I set out, both in p 
and hopes, but rich in a great store of valuable and pleasing knowledge 


which I have acquired of the wickedness of my fellow-creatures. That, 
I believe, is the only kind of wealth I am doomed to acquire in the world, 
but it is a kind of which I am but little covetous 

Though he was very much feted and caressed at Al- 
bany before he left, yet many at first were very slow to 
extend any civility to him. One lady was pointedly in- 
dignant against him, and in an outburst of wrath vowed, 
if she were a man, she would horsewhip him. The his- 
torian was wonderfully amused on hearing this, and with 
a degree of modest impudence quite foreign to his nat- 
ural character, forthwith determined to seek an introduc- 
tion. He accordingly prevailed on a friend to take him 
to her house. She received him very stiffly at first, but 
before the end of the interview he had succeeded in mak- 
ing himself so agreeable that she relaxed entirely from 
her hauteur, and they became very good friends. 

She was satisfied, I presume, that he had taken the 
old Dutch names at random, without intending personal 
allusion, which was the case, as he has himself told me. 
" It was a confounded impudent thing in such a young- 
ster as I was," said he to me in his latter years, "to be 
meddling in this way with old family names ; but I did 
not dream of offense." 



HE following account of a journey to Philadel- 
phia, in which Mr. Irving acted as escort to 
Mrs. Hoffman and her three infant children, is 
not without interest, as an example of the jocose extrav- 
agance in which he sometimes indulged in scribbling to 
Mr. Hoffman : — 

[To Mr. Hoffman.'] 

Philadelphia, June 5, 1810. 
Dear Sir : — 

We arrived safe in Philadelphia this morning, between eight and nine 
o'clock, and took the city by surprise, the inhabitants not having expected 
us until evening. All this is in consequence of my unparalleled general- 
ship, which already begins to be talked of with great admiration through- 
out the country. I took a light coachee from Brighton to Brunswick 
where we breakfasted, and finding it impossible to procure a four-horso 
carriage there, I changed carriage and horses and pushed on to Trenton, 
where, while the Philistines were dining, I engaged a fresh carriage and 
horses for Philadelphia, and made out to reach Homesburgh (about ten 
miles from Philadelphia) between seven and eight in the evening. I was 



anxious to get as far as possible, lest the weather might change, or the 
children get unwell. The journey has been infinitely more comfortable 
and pleasant than I had anticipated. Yesterday was a fine day for travel- 
ling, and I never knew children to travel so well. Charles has behaved 
like a very good boy, and George is one of the sprightliest little travellers 
I ever knew ; he has furnished amusement during the whole ride, and 
what is still better, has gained unto himself a very rare and curious stock 
of knowledge ; for besides the unknown tongue in which he usually con- 
verses, and which none but Mammy Caty (who you know is at least one- 
half witch) can understand, he has picked up a considerable smattering 
of High Dutch since he entered the State of Pennsylvania, so that I re- 
gretted exceedingly, and that more than once during my travels, that the 
immortal Psalm anazar was not present to discourse with him. 

Little Julia has had an astonishing variety of complaints since our 
leaving New York ; has had two doctors to attend her, has taken three 
score and ten doses of medicine, not to mention anise-seed tea and pepper- 
mint cordial, and what is passing strange, is still alive, fat and hearty ; 
a case only to be paralleled by that of the famous Spinster of Ratcliff 
Highway, who was cured of nineteen diseases in a fortnight, and every 
one of them mortal ! 

You cannot conceive what speculation our appearance made among the 
yeomanry of Jersey and Pennsylvania. Many of the excellent old Dutch 
farmers mistook us for a family of Yankee squatters, and were terribly 
alarmed, and the little community of Bustletown (who are very apt to 
be thrown into a panic) were in utter dismay at our approach, insomuch 
that when we entered one end of the town, I saw several old women in 
Pompadour and Birdseye gowns, with bandboxes under their arms, mak- 
ing their escape out of the other. However, I contrived to pacify them 
by lotting them know it was the family of the Recorder of New York, 
who, being an orthodox Bible man, always travelled into foreign lands, 
as did the Patriarchs of yore— that is to say, with his wife, and his sons, 
and his daughters, his men-servants and his maid-servants, and his cattle 
and the stranger that is within his gates, and everything that is his, 
whereat they were exceeding glad and glorified God. 


We are all comfortably situated at Ann's,* who lives in a little palace. 
. . . . Mary is much improved in her looks, and appears to bo a ^nut 
favorite with the family. Ann has taken her under her care, and is mak- 
ing her a hard student. She has already read seven pages in Kollin, and 
the whole history of Camilla and Cecilia, not to mention a considerable 
attack which she has made upon "the Castle of Inchvalley ; a talc, alas, 
too true ! " 

In the hurry of my writing the above (for I write as fast as we trav- 
elled) I forgot to mention to you that having safely arrived within the 
suburbs of Philadelphia, the old carriage in which we came from Trenton 
sank beneath its burden and gave up the ghost ! 

In other words, we broke down just after entering the city; but as it 
was merely a spring had given way, the whole party, man, woman, 
and child, were dug out of the ruins without any other mishap than 
that of overturning the medicine chest, and spilling fifteen phials, 
which were as full of plagues as those mentioned in the Revelation. I 
immediately perceived a change in little Julia for the better, and I make 
bold to conjecture that had a dozen more been demolished, she would 
have been the heartiest child in Philadelphia at this present writing. 
You cannot imagine the astonishment of all Philadelphia at seeing so 
many living beings extracted out of one little carriage. 

Farewell, my good sir. Remember me to the remnants and rags of 

your household that remain behind. Keep all marauders from breaking 

into my room and disturbing the pictures of my venerable ancestors, and 

believe me Ever your friend, 


A letter to Mrs. Hoffman at Philadelphia, after his re- 
turn to New York, shows him to be domesticated at a 
cottage on the east bank of the Hudson, within a few 

* Ann was the eldest daughter of Mr. Hoffman, married, the year before, to « harlefl 
Nicholas, of Philadelphia. Mary was a younger eister by the first marriage, atterv, udfl 
Mrs. Philip Rhinelander. 


miles of the city, which Mr. Hoffman had hired for a 
summer retreat. At its close he says : 

Tell Charles I will be able to write to him about the beginning of the 
week, as Mr. Campbell is to spend part of to-morrow with me 

The Campbell here mentioned, was a brother of the 
Bard of Hope. He was a resident of New York, and 
had lately applied to Mr. Irving for his good offices in 
procuring the publication of " O'Connor's Child," and a 
new edition of " Gertrude of Wyoming," the manuscript 
of which the poet had sent out to him, with a view to a 
pecuniary remuneration on this side of the water. Mr. 
Irving proposed the publication to Charles I. Nicholas 
and his partner, booksellers in Philadelphia, who agreed 
to undertake the work for a stipulated sum, provided he 
would preface it with a biographical sketch of the poet. 
To this he assented ; and having obtained some meagre 
particulars from the brother, worked them up into a 
brief biography, which was received with approbation 
by the public, though it gave little satisfaction to the 
author himself. He once told me it was written against 
the vein, and was, as he expressed it, " up hill work." 

In a pencil memorandum, half effaced, which I found 
among his papers after his death, we have this further 
sketch of him at the Hoffman's rural retreat on the 
Hudson. He had borrowed from Inskeep and Bradford, 
the English copy of the "Lady of the Lake," before they 
were to put it to press, and all eagerness to devour it, 


had stolen forth with his secret treasure to have the first 
reading to himself. More than once I have heard him 
descant upon the delight of this stealthy perusal, and the 
surprise with which he started to his feet at the unex- 
pected denouement, 

"And Snowdon's knight is Scotland's king." 
But here he is at his solitary enjoyment : — 

August 12, 1810. 
Seated, leaning against a rock with a wild cherry-tree over my head, 
reading Scott's "Lady of the Lake." The busy ant hurrying over the 
page — crickets skipping into my bosom — wind rustling among the top 
branches of the trees. Broad masses of shade darken the Hudson and 
cast the opposite shore in black. 

I am strongly reminded, by this picture, of his expres- 
sive invitation to a friend at a later day — to make him a 
visit at Sunnyside. " Come and see me, and I'll give you 
a book and a tree." 

In the next written trace of him this year, I find him 
towards the end of August, at the hospitable seat of Cup- 
tain Phillips, in the Highlands, a favorite resort of him- 
self, the Kembles, Paulding, Brevoort, and, somewhat 
later, James Benwick. Near by was the mountain brook 
described in "The Angler" of the "Sketch Book," and 
here it was that Brevoort sallied forth to catch trout, 
with the elaborate equipment set forth in that article. 
A female correspondent, describing to him a walk over 
vol. 1. — 13 


these grounds some years later, and "up the lonely brook 
so familiarized to her by his descriptions," says: "Here 
we were shown Paulding's seat," and " your place of 
study (and I suspect — sleep)." 

The biographical sketch of Campbell was the only 
thing which came from his pen this year, and his literary 
pursuits would seem now to have been brought to a 
stand. The success of Knickerbocker had been far be- 
yond his expectations, but it did not quicken his zeal for 
literature as a profession. He liked the exercise of his 
pen as an amusement, or a source of occasional profit, 
but to be tied down to a literary career as his destiny, »to 
be under bonds to write for a livelihood, this presented 
no enviable prospect to him. Indeed, his whole soul 
recoiled from the idea of a dependence upon literature 
for his daily bread. Such a career was beset with too 
many trials and vexations, was too precarious, too fitful, 
too much exposed to caprice, vicissitude, and failure. 
His happiness was at stake in obtaining some employ- 
ment that would insure a steady income; and disap- 
pointed, as we have seen, in some hopes of an office, for 
which his friends had urged his claims, and shut out 
apparently from every other avenue to a modest com- 
petence — he seems at this period to have pondered the 
future with a boding heart. Brevoort, to whom he con- 
fided his doubts and misgivings, used playfully to rally 
him on his dread of the alms-house ; but his brother 
Peter, with a deeper insight into his nature, read the 


traces of these feelings in his letters in a different vein. 
He knew well, that though never inclined to take trouble 
upon interest, he was not so constituted that he could live 
for the moment without casting anxious glances ahead, 
dreading, of all things, to have his spirit clouded by an 
uncertain future. 

As there had been a sort of literary alliance in regard 
to Knickerbocker, so whatever either did at this time 
was for the benefit of both. Peter's letters abound in 
allusions to a sort of compact or partnership, by which 
they held all things in common. His main anxiety 
abroad seems to have aimed at rendering his expedition 
useful to Washington as well as to himself. 

I have already authorized you (he writes) to appropriate the proceeds 
of my expedition in any way that may seem for our mutual benefit. I 
need not repeat that I consider your attention to esta obra as amply per- 
forming your part in our little partnership. In truth I only require you 
to be cheerful and not to repine at being unemployed, and I shall be 
happy. My only fear is that you may indulge different feelings, and so 
acquire a temper of mind unfavorable to happiness. Be assured that if 
nothing of further profit grows out of my present occupation, we will, on 
my return, devise other plans of advantage. 

And again : — 

I need not say how deeply essential your health and happiness aiv to 
my own enjoyment. I have the apprehension that you allow yourself to 
be dispirited by the idea that you are prevented by want of opportunity 
from playing an active part in our little partnership. Be assured thai I 
am sincere in the expression of my opinion that the state of compelled 


inactivity is much the more irksome than that of active employment. On 
my honor, I consider yours the more difficult situation of the two. I 
shall only regret that you should view it differently, yet that I trust can- 
not be. We certainly understand each other too well to have any con- 
sideration for the laws of meum and tuum between us, or for either of us 
to care on which side the opportunity of profitable exertion lies. 

These passages give an interesting picture of the char- 
acter of Peter, but it is doubtful whether they would 
have been effectual to repress the impatient longing of 
Washington for some active pursuit ; if they had not 
speedily been followed by a letter from his brother, of a 
very different description, which seemed to open the 
long-coveted prospect to independence. 

I have just received (writes Peter from London, May 31, 1810) a propo- 
sal from brother Ebenezer to form a connection in business, and have 
written to him that it will be a pleasure to me, if it wdl be agreeable to 
him, to form a third with you and myself. He will explain the plan 

It has never been my idea that you should become engaged in com- 
merce, except so slightly as not to interfere with your other habits and 
pursuits. Nor would I have it. The drudgery of regular business I would 
not undertake for any reasonable consideration. Those who have been 
educated for it, and practiced in it, I have no doubt find it pleasant ; to 
me and to you it would be excessively irksome. 

My own plan here is to give it close attention at the necessary periods 
of purchase and shipment, and to be a man of leisure during the inter- 
vals. I have no doubt that we shall in a short time realize enough to 
establish a little castle of our own, in which we may assemble the good 
fellows we esteem. 



"Washington grasped readily at this proposal, especially 
as the busiuess was not likely to be attended with any 
trouble to himself, while it allowed long intervals of lei- 
sure to his brother Peter — and afforded to Ebenezcr a 
sphere of activity, in which he took delight. The firm 
took the name of P. & E. Irving & Co., in New York, and 
P. Irving & Co., in England. Peter made the purchases 
and shipments at Liverpool, while Ebenezer conducted 
the sales at New York. By the terms of the partnership, 
the profits were to be divided into fifths, the two active 
partners to receive each two fifths and Washington one ; 
but if he should marry or become an active partner, the 
profits were then to be divided into equal thirds. It was 
not expected by his brothers, however, that he would pay 
any attention to the business ; their object in giving him 
an interest in their concern, being mainly to provide for 
his subsistence, and leave him at liberty to cultivate his 
general talents, and devote himself to literature. 



HE winter which succeeded his partnership 
was one of great anxiety to the merchants. 
Their interests were likely to be seriously af- 
fected by the measures of Congress ; and his brothers, 
William and Ebenezer, thought it advisable to have an 
agent at the seat of government, to watch the moving 
of the waters, and give the earliest intimations of com- 
ing danger. This business was confided to "Washington ; 
who, nothing loth, accordingly started for his destination, 
on the 21st of December, 1810, and reached it on the 9th 
of January, 1811 — a degree of speed not calculated to 
encourage the hope of Ins proving a very alert channel of 

In a letter to his brother Ebenezer, dated Washington, 
January 9, 1811, he writes : — 



I arrived here this evening, after literally struggling through the mu<l 
and mire all the way from Baltimore. 1 must confess I am nol one of 
the most expeditious travellers in the world ; but it was impossibl 
withstand the extremely friendly and hospitable attentions of the good 
people of Philadelphia and Baltimore ; at any rate, I am a mere mortal 
on these occasions, and yield myself up, like a lamb to the slaughter. 

Congress has been sitting with closed doors for two or three days, en- 
gaged, as it is supposed, in the Florida business. I have not been able to 
learn anything of matters as yet, but I mean to be as deep in the mys- 
teries of the cabinet as that " entire chrysolite " of wisdom, .... 
notwithstanding that he rode post, as I am well informed, from New 
York to Washington, with his finger beside his nose, and nodding and 
winking all the way to every man, woman, and child he saw. 

In a letter which follows to Brevoort, who had accom- 
panied him to Philadelphia, we have among other things 
an allusion to a French translation of Knickerbocker, to 
Jarvis the painter, and to Mrs. Madison. 

Citt op Washington, Jan. 13, 1811. 
Dear Brevooet : — 

I have been constantly intending to write to you ; but you know the 
hurry and confusion of the life I at present lead, and the distraction of 
thought which it occasions, and which is totally hostile to letter writing. 
The letter, however, which you have been so good as to write me, de- 
mands a return of one kind or another ; and so I answer it, partly through 
a sense of duty, and partly in hopes of inducing you to write another. 

My journey to Baltimore was terrible and sublime— as full of adventur- 
ous matters and direful peril as one of Walter Scott's pantomimic, melo- 
dramatic, romantic tales. I was three days on the road, and slept one 
night in a log-house. Yet somehow or another, I lived through it all ; 
and lived merrily into the bargain, for which I thank a large stock of 
good humor, which I put up before my departure from New York, as 
travelling stores to last me throughout my expedition. In a word, I left 


home, determined to be pleased with everything, or if not pleased, to be 
amused, if I may be allowed the distinction, and I have hitherto kept to 
my determination. 

I remained two days in Baltimore, where I was very well treated, and 
was just getting into a very agreeable society, when the desire to get to 
Washington induced me to set off abruptly, deferring all enjoyment of 
Baltimore until my return. While there I dined with Coale [the book- 
seller]. At his table I found Jarvis, who is in great vogue in Baltimore, 
painting all the people of note and fashion, and universally passing for a 
great wit, a fellow of infinite jest ; in short, "the agreeable rattle." I 
was likewise waited on by Mr. Tezier, the French gentleman who has 
translated my history of New York. He is a very pleasant, gentlemanly 
fellow, and we were very civil to each other, as you may suppose. He 
tells me he has sent his translation to Paris, where I suspect they will 
understand and relish it about as much as they would a Scotch haggis 
and a singed sheep's-head. 

The ride from Baltimore to Washington was still worse than the former 
one ; but I had two or three odd geniuses for fellow-passengers, and 
made out to amuse myself very well. I arrived at the inn about dusk ; 
and understanding that Mrs. Madison was to have her levee or drawing- 
room that very evening, I swore by all my gods I would be there. But 
how ? was the question. I had got away down into Georgetown, and the 
persons to whom my letters of introduction were directed, lived all upon 
Capitol Hill, about three miles off, while the President's house was exactly 
half way. Here was a non-plus enough to startle any man of less enter- 
prising spirit ; but I had sworn to be there, and I determined to keep my 
oath, and like Caleb Quotem, to "have a place at the Review." Sol 
mounted with a stout heart to my room ; resolved to put on my pease 
blossoms and silk stockings ; gird up my loins ; sally forth on my expedi- 
tion; and like a vagabond knight-errant, trust to Providence for success 
and whole bones. Just as I descended from my attic chamber, full of 
this valorous spirit, I was met by my landlord, with whom, and the head 
waiter, by the bye, I had held a private cabinet counsel on the subject. 
Bully Rook informed me that there was a party of gentlemen just going 


from the house, one of whom, Mr. Fontaine Maury of New York, 1 1 
offered his services to introduce rne to "the Sublime Porte." 1 cu1 
of my best opera flourishes; skipped into the d: - om, p< | 

head into the hands of a sanguinary Jacobinical barber, who can 1 
havoc and desolation into the lower regions of my face; mowed down all 
the beard en one of my cheeks and laid the other in blood like a i 
quered province ; and thus, like a second Banquo, with "twenty mo 
murthers on my head," in a few minutes I emerged from dirt ami dark- 
ness into the blazing splendor of Mr. Madison's drawing-room. Hero I 
was most graciously received ; found a crowded collection of groat and 
little men, of ugly old women and beautiful young ones, and in h n 
minutes was hand and glove with half the people in the assemb] 
Mrs. Madison is a fine, portly, buxom dame, who has a smile and a 
pleasant word for everybody 

Since that memorable evening I have been in a constant round of ban- 
queting, reveling, and dancing. The Congress has been sitting with 
closed doors, so that I have not seen much of the wisdom of the nation ; 
but I have had enough matter for observation and entertainment to Jast 
me a handful of months. I only want a chosen fellow like yourself to 
help me wonder, admire, and laugh — as it is, I must endeavor to do these 
things as well as I can by myself. 

I am delightfully moored "head and stern "in the family of John P. 
Van Xess, brother of William P. He is an old friend of mine, and in- 
sisted on my coming to his house the morning after my arrival. The 
family is very agreeable. 

The other evening, at the City Assembly, I was suddenly introduced 
to my cousin, the Congressman from Scaghticoke, and we forthwith 
became two most loving friends. 

is here, and "my brother George" into the bargain. 

is endeavoring to obtain a deposit in the Mechanic's Bank, in case 

the U. S. Bank does not obtain a charter. He is as deep as usual ; -I 
his head, and winks through his spectacles at everybody ho meets. Ho 
swore to me the other day, that he had not told anybody what his opinion 
was, whether the bank ought to have a charter or not ; nobody in Wash- 


ington knew what his opinion was — not one — nobody — he defied any one 
to say what it was — "anybody — damn the one — no, sir — nobody knows" 

— and, if he had added nobody cares, I believe honest would have 

been exactly in the right. Then there's Ins brother , "damn that 

fellow — knows eight or nine languages — yes, sir — nine languages — Arabic, 
Spanish, Greek, Ital — and there's his wife now — she and Mrs. Madison 
are always together. Mrs. Madison has taken a great fancy to her little 
daughter ; only think, sir, that child is only six years old, and talks the 
Italian like a book, by God — little devil learnt it all from an Italian ser- 
vant — damned clever fellow — lived with my brother ten years — says 

he would not part with him for all Tripoli," etc., etc., etc. 

A letter to Mrs. Hoffman, from Washington, at this 
time, concludes with the following message to Mrs. Ren- 
wick : — 

When you see my good friend Mrs. Eenwick, tell her I feel great com- 
punction at having deprived her of her Tartan piaddie all the winter ; 
but if it will be any gratification to her, she may be assured it has been 
of signal comfort to me, and has occasionally served as a mantle to some 
of the prettiest girls in Washington. 

This lady, whose name will be held in honor as the 
heroine of " The Blue-eyed Lassie " of Burns, was the 
daughter of the Bev. Andrew Jeffrey, of Lochmaben, in 
Dumfries-shire, Scotland. She was early transplanted to 
these shores, and passed the greater part of her life in the 
city of New York, where her house was a cherished re- 
sort of Mr. Irving. A brief and well-written Memoir of 
her, by Mrs. Balmanno, printed privately for her family 
and friends, speaks of her as follows : " Up to the ad- 
vanced age of seventy-seven, she adorned a high social 


position with all those qualities of heart and mind, all 
those sweet and captivating amenities of manner, which 
had, in her youth, when joined to great personal attrac- 
tions, rendered her one of the most fascinating maidens 
of Annandale." She often met the Scottish poet at her 
father's fireside, and besides " the blue-eyed Lassie," ho 
made her the subject of another song, " When first I saw 
my Jeanie's face," which is contained in the memoir 
above mentioned. As this effusion has never appeared 
in any collection of the works of the immortal bard, I am 
tempted to quote the fine compliment of the concluding 
stanza : — 

" But sair I doubt some happier swain 
Has gained my Jeanie's favor, 
If sae may every bliss be hers, 
Tho' I can never have her. 

" But gang she east, or gang she west, 
'Twixt Nith and Tweed all over, 
While men have eyes, or ears, or taste, 
She'll always find a lover." 

It was to the subject of this poetic effusion, that the 
author of the " Sketch Book" was indebted for the slip 
of ivy from Melrose, which she planted with her own 
hands, and lived to see, running in rich luxuriance over 
the walls of Sunnyside. 

I give some further letters of this period : — 


Washington, Feb. 7, 1811. 
Dear Beevoort : — 

I am ashamed at not having answered your letter before, but I am too 
much occupied and indeed distracted here by the multiplicity of objects 
before me, to write with any degree of coherency. 

I wish with all my heart you had come on with me, for my time has 
passed delightfully. 1 have become acquainted with almost everybody 
here, and find the most complete medley of character I ever mingled 
amongst. As I do not suffer party feelings to bias my mind, I have as- 
sociated with both parties, and have found worthy and intelligent men 
in both, with honest hearts, enlightened minds, generous feelings, and 
bitter prejudices. A free communication of this kind tends more than 
anything else to divest a man's mind of party bigotry ; to make him re- 
gardless of those jaundiced representations of persons and things which 
he is too apt to have held up to him by party writers, and to beget in him 
that candid, tolerant, good-natured habit of thinking, which I think 
every man that values his own comfort and utility should strive to cul- 

You would be amused, were you to arrive here just now, to see the odd 
and heterogeneous circle of acquaintance I have formed. One day I am 
dining with a knot of honest, furious Federalists, who are damning all 
their opponents as a set of consummate scoundrels, panders of Bonaparte, 
etc., etc. The next day I dine, perhaps, with some of the very men I 
have heard thus anathematized, and find them equally honest, warm, and 
indignant ; and if I take their word for it, I had been dining the day be- 
fore with some of the greatest knaves in the nation, men absolutely paid 
and suborned by the British government. 

To show you the mode of life I lead, I give you ray engagements for 
this week. On Monday I dined with the mess of officers at the barracks ; 
in the evening a ball at Van Ness's. On Tuesday with my cousin Knick- 
erbocker and several merry Federalists. On Wednesday I dined with 
General Turreau, who had a very pleasant party of Frenchmen and 
democrats ; in the evening at Mrs. Madison's levee, which was brilliant 
and crowded with interesting men and fine women. On Thursday a din- 


ner at Latrobe's. On Friday a dinner at the Secretary of I 
in the evening a ball at the Mayor's. Saturday as yet is unengaged. At 
all these parties you meet with so many intelligent people that your mind 
is continually and delightfully exercised. 

The Supreme Court has likewise within a day or two brought a crowd 
of new strangers to the city. Jo. Ingersoll, Clement Biddle, Clymer, 

Goodloe Harper, and several others have arrived This place 

would suit you to a fraction, as you could find company suitable to< 
varying mood of mind, and men capable of conversing and giving you 
information on every subject on which you might wish to be informed. 

To make intelligible the following interesting portion 
of a reply to a letter of his brother William, it is neces- 
sary to premise, that his name had been stiggested as 
Secretary of Legation to France, under Joel Barlow as 
Minister. The author of the " Columbiad," however, had 
somehow or other associated him with some strictures 
on his Epic of which he was innocent, and would not be 
likely to incline to such a secretary. 

[7o William Irving.] 

Washington, Feb. 9, 1811. 
My dear Brother :— 

I am very much obliged to you for your kind letter of the 5th. I had 
begun to feel quite impatient at not hearing from home, and to think 
that the news I occasionally scribbled from here might be of little im- 

Your opinion with respect to the matter I hinted at has decided me, 
shoidd anything of the kind be proposed. I have heard, however, noth- 
ing further on the subject, and do not suffer it to occupy my thoughts 
much. I should only look upon it as an advantageous opportunity of 


acquiring information and materials for literary purposes, as I do not feel 
much ambition or talents for political life. Should I not be placed in the 
situation alluded to, I shall pursue a plan I had some time since contem- 
plated, of studying for a while, and then travelling about the country for 
the purpose of observing the manners and characters of the various parts 
of it, with a view to writing a work, which, if I have any acquaintance 
with my own talents, will be far more profitable and reputable than any- 
thing I have yet written. Of this, however, you will not speak to others. 
But whatever I may write in future I am determined on one thing — to 
dismiss from my mind all party prejudice and feeling as much as possi- 
ble, and to endeavor to contemplate every subject with a candid and 
good-natured eye. 

Whether the author ever finished the contemplated 
plan of study, here alluded to, does not appear ; but cer- 
tain it is, that the literary promise of thi3 letter was 
never fulfilled. The work, of the nature and design of 
which we have only this imperfect intimation, was not 
even commenced. 

In the letter which follows, we have, with other mat- 
ters, further allupion to the appointment : — 

[To William Irving]. 

Washington, Feb. 16, 1811. 
. . . . The discussion of the Bank question is going on vigorously 
In the Senate. Giles made a very ingenious speech both for and against 
it. He wa3 opposed to the Bank, but the enemies of the Bank thought 
he had done their cause more harm than any that had spoken on the op- 
posite side. It seems Giles was compelled to take the side he did by the 
instructions of his constituents, but like an elephant he trampled down 
his own army. I was very much pleased with his speaking ; he is a close 


reasoner and very perspicuous. Clay, from Kentucky, spoke again-' 
Bank, lie is one of the finest fellows I have seen here, and one oi the 
finest orators in the Senate, though I believe the youngest man in it. 
The galleries, however, were so much crowded with ladies and gentlen 
and such expectations had been expressed concerning his speech, that he 
Kras completely frightened and acquitted himself very little to his own 
satisfaction. When his speech is printed, I will send it to you ; he is a 

man I have great personal regard for 

As to the appointment of which I spoke to you, I do not indulge any 
sanguine hopes about it, and don't trouble myself on that score. I find 
that it has been the custom to leave the choice to the minister himself, in 
which case I have no chance. The Secretary of State was the first person 
who suggested the idea, and he is very solicitous for it ; indeed, I have 
experienced great civility from him while here. The President, on its 
being mentioned to him, said some very handsome things of me, and I 
make no doubt will express a wish in my favor on the subject, more espe- 
cially as Mrs. Madison is a sworn friend of mine, and indeed all the ladies 
of the household and myself great cronies. I shall let the thing take its 
chance. I have made no application, neither shall I make any ; and if I 
go away from Washington with nothing but the great good will that has 
been expressed and manifested towards me, I shall thank God for all his 
mercies, and think I have made a very advantageous visit. 

To the same brother lie writes, February 20, 1811 :— 

The non-intercourse question will come before the House either to- 
morrow or next day, and the discussion will be extremely anim. 
.... Jack Randolph has been keeping himself up for the non-in- 
tercourse question, and I expect will attack it with all his forces. Then 
is no speaker in either house that excites such universal attention as 
Randolph. But they listen to him more to be delighted by his eloquer 
and entertained by his ingenuity and eccentricity, than to be convinced 
by sound doctrine and close argument. 


[To Henry Brevoort.] 

Washington, March 5, 1811. 

. . . . I shall leave this city the day after to-morrow. I should 
have gone to-morrow, but the stage books are full. You cannot imagine 
how forlorn this desert city appears to me, now the great tide of casual 
population has rolled away. The three or four last days have been quite 
melancholy. Having formed a great number of intimate and agreeable 
acquaintances, I have been continually taking leave of persons for whom 
I had contracted a regard, and who are dispersing to various parts of this 
immense country, without much chance of our ever meeting one another 
again. I think nothing would tempt me to remain again in "Washing- 
ton, until the breaking up of Congress ; unless I might start off with the 
first of the tide. 

P. S. — About the time you receive this, I expect "my cousin " Knick- 
erbocker will arrive in N. Y. ; I wish you would call at the City Hotel, 
and look for him, and give him some attention among you ; he is a right 
honest, sound-hearted, pleasant fellow. 

[To the same.] 

Philadelphia, March 16, 1811. 

My dear Fellow :— 

I arrived in this city the day before yesterday, and was delighted to 
find a letter from you, waiting for me on Charles' mantel-piece. I thank 
you for this mark of attention, and for the budget of amusing and inter- 
esting news you have furnished me with. I stopped but four days at 
Baltimore on my return ; one of which I was confined at home by indis- 
position. The people of Baltimore are exceedingly social and very hos- 
pitable to strangers ; and I saw that if I let myself once get into the 
stream, I should not be able to get out again under a fortnight at least ; 
so being resolved to push homewards as expeditiously as was reasonably 
possible, I resisted the world, the flesh, and the devil at Baltimore ; and 
after three days and nights' stout carousal, and a fourth's sickness, sor- 


row, and repentance, I hurried off from that sensual city. By the bye, 
that little "Hydra and chimera dire," Jarvis, is in prodigious gnat cir- 
culation at Baltimore. The gentlemen have all voted him ;i rare wag 
and most brilliant wit; and the ladies pronounce him one of the queerest, 
ugliest, most agreeable little creatures in the world. The consequence is 
that there is not a ball, tea-party, concert, supper, or any other private 
regale, but that Jarvis is the most conspicuous personage ; and as to a 
dinner, they can no more do without him, than they could without Friar 
John at the roystering revels of the renowned Pantagruel. He is over- 
whelmed with business and pleasure, his pictures admired and extolled to 
the skies, and his jokes industriously repeated and laughed at 

Jack Randolph was at Baltimore for a day or two after my arrival. He 
sat to Jarvis for a likeness for one of the Ridgeley's, and consented that I 
should have a copy. I am in hopes of receiving it before I leave Phila- 
delphia, and of bringing it home with me 

I was out visiting with Ann yesterday, and met that little assemblage 
of smiles and fascinations, Mary Jackson. She was bounding with youth, 
health and innocence, and good humor. She had a pretty straw hat 
tied under her chin with a pink ribbon, and looked like some little wood- 
land nymph, just lured out by spring and fine weather. God bless her 
light heart, and grant that it may never know care or sorrow ! it's enough 
to cure spleen and melancholy only to look at her. 

Your familiar pictures of home make me extremely desirous again to be 
there. It will be impossible, however, to get away from the kind atten- 
tions of our friends in this city, until some time next week, perhaps to- 
wards the latter end, when I shall once more return to sober life, satisfied 
with having secured three months of sunshine in this valley of shadows 
and darkness 

I rejoice to hear of the approaching nuptials of our redoubtable High- 
land chieftain, and hope you are preparing a grand Epithalaraium for 
the joyful occasion. Remember me affectionately to the Hoffmans, Kem- 
bles, etc. Yours ever, 

W. iRVINli. 
VOL. I.— 14 


March 18th he writes to Brevoort : — 

I shall be with you in a few days, and then we will look out for Gouv, 
and prepare for the captain's Hymeneals. 

He had hardly reached New York, however, before he 
found himself constrained to return to Washington — ap- 
parently on some mission of commercial necessity. He 
writes thence to Brevoort, April 2d, 1811 : — 

I have been whirled here with such rapidity, that I can scarcely realize 
the transition ; it is quite contrary to ray loitering hospitable mode of 
travelling. I have seen nobody on my route but the elegant Jarvis, whom 
I found sleeping on a sofa bed in his painting room, like a sleeping Venus, 
and his beautiful dog couched at his feet. I aroused the varlet, and bid 
him on pain of death to have the likeness of Kandolph done on my re- 
turn; he breakfasted with us, and entertained us with several jokes, 
which had passed the ordeal of Baltimore dinner-tables. 

In the following letter to Brevoort from Philadelphia 
on his return, we have an allusion to George Frederick 
Cooke, the great actor, who had come the year previous 
to this country, in which he died in 1812. 

Philadelphia, April 11, 1811. 
Dear Brevoort : — 

I have neglected answering your letter from an expectation that I 
should have been home before this ; but I have suffered day after day to 
slip by, and here I still am, in much the same mood as you are when in 
bed of a fine genial morning, endeavoring to prolong the indolent enjoy- 
ment, to indulge in another doze, and renew those delicious half-waking 
dreams that give one an idea of a Mussulman's paradise. 


I have for a few months past led such a pleasanl life, thai I almost 
shrink from awaking from it into the commonplace round of regular ex- 
istence ; " but this eternal blazon must not be" (Shakespeare), so in two 

or three days I'll take staff in hand and return to the land of my fathers. 
To tell the truth, I have been induced to stay a day or two longer than I 
otherwise would have done, to have the gratification of seeing Cooke in 
Kitely and Lear; the first he plays to-night, the other on Wednesday. 
The old fellow is in great repute here, and draws excellent houses. I 
stopped in accidentally at the theatre a few evenings since, when he was 
playing Macbeth ; not expecting to receive any pleasure, for you recollect 
he performed it very indifferently in New York. I entered just at the 
time when he was meditating the murder, and I remained to the end of 
the play in a state of admiration and delight. The old boy absolutely 
outdid himself ; his dagger scene, his entrance to Duncan's chamber, 
and his horror after the commission of the deed, completed a dramatic 
action that I shall never forget as long as I live ; it was sublime. I placo 
the performance of that evening among the highest pieces of acting I have 
ever witnessed. You know I had before considered Cooper as much supe- 
rior to him in Macbeth, but on this occasion the character made more im- 
pression on me than when played by Cooper, or even Kemble. The more 
I see of Cooke, the more I admire his style of acting ; he is very unequal, 
from his irregular habits and nervous affections ; but when he is in 
proper mood, there is a truth, and, of course, a simplicity in his per- 
formance, that throws all rant, stage-trick, and stage-effect completely in 
the background. "Were he to remain here a sufficient time for the public 
to perceive and dwell upon his merits, and the true character of his play- 
ing, he would produce a new taste in acting. One of his best perform- 
ances may be compared to a master-piece of ancient statuary, where yon 
have the human figure, destitute of idle ornament, depending upon the 
truth of anatomical proportion and arrangement, the accuracy of char- 
acter and gracefulness of composition ; in short, a simple display of 
nature. Such a production requires the eye of taste and knowledge I i 
perceive its eminent excellences; whereas, a vulgar spectator will turn 
from it to be enraptured with some bungling workmanship, loaded with 


finery and drapery, and all the garish ornaments in which unskillfulness 
takes refuge. 

Sully has linished a very fine and careful portrait of Cooke, and has 
begun a full-length picture of him in the character of Richard. This 
he is to receive three hundred dollars for from the gentlemen of Philadel- 
phia who opened a subscription for the purpose, which was filled up in an 
hour. The picture is to be placed in the Academy of Arts 

Walsh's 2d number will be out in two or three days ; I have seen it, 
but not had time to read more than a few pages of a masterly review of 
Hamilton's works. I think the number will do him great credit. 

Give my love to all who love me, and remember me kindly to the rest. 

Yours truly, W. I. 

I know not how soon it was after his return to New 
York, that he witnessed a performance of Cooke, of an- 
other sort, which I have heard him describe. It was at 
his benefit at the Park theatre, and he was to play Shy- 
lock and Sir Archy MacSarcasm. Mr. Irving was in a 
stage box. He went through Shylock admirably, but had 
primed himself with drink, to such a degree, before the 
commencement of the afterpiece, that he was not himself. 
His condition was so apparent that they hurried through 
the piece, and skipped, and curtailed, to have the curtain 
fall, when lo ! as it was descending, Cooke stepped out 
from under it and presented himself before the footlights, 
to make a speech. Instantly there were shouts from 
the pit : " Go home — Cooke — to home — you're drunk." 
Cooke kept his ground. "Didn't I please you in Shy- 
lock?" "Yes— yes— you played that nobly." "Well, 
then, the man who played Shylock well couldn't be 


drunk." "You weren't drunk then, but you're drunk 
now," was the rejoinder, and they continued to roar : 
"Go home — go home — go to bed." Cooke, indignant, 
tapped the handle of his sword emphatically: "'Tis but 
a foil;" then extending his right arm to the audience, 
and shaking his finger at them — " 'tis well for you it is," 
and marched off amid roars of laughter. It was a rich 



N tlie spring of 1811, Washington, who had 
hitherto resided with his mother, took up his 
quarters with Brevoort, at Mrs. Ryckrnan's, in 
Broadway, near the Bowling Green. Here they had a 
parlor in common, with bedrooms off, and Brevoort had 
a large and well-selected library, which was always at 
the command of his companion. This would seem to 
have been a situation propitious to literary labor, yet, 
with the exception of a revised edition of the " History 
of New York," the two years spent here were barren of 
literary fruit. He had at first intended a pretty thorough 
dedication of his time and talents to these congenial pur- 
suits, but this purpose, however sincerely entertained, 
soon lost its sway over him. The spur of necessity was 
needed to quicken and invigorate his literary ambition, 
which gradually wore off under the temptations to ease 
and indolence which his circumstances offered, until at 



last lie settled down into a sort of gentleman of leisure ; 
not neglectful of mental cultivation, it is true, yet mainly 
intent upon the pleasures and amusements of the | 
ing hour. Not without a shade of self-upbraiding, how- 
ever, did he surrender himself to the indulgence of such 
entire literary relaxation. His conscience often smote 
him during this interval, I have heard him say, that he 
did not devote himself more closely to his pen ; hut his 
compunction was not sufficiently keen to break the spell 
which held his faculties in bondage. 

In March of the following year, Brevoort sailed for 
Europe, leaving Irving at Mrs. Ryckman's, in possession 
of his library, but sadly missing his intellectual sym- 
pathy and companionship, and earnestly longing for his 
return from an absence which was unexpectedly length- 
ened to twenty months. " I have not been very well since 
your departure," he writes to him, March 17th, " and am 
completely out of spirits. I do miss you terribly. I 
dined yesterday at a small party at Mrs. Eenwick's, and 
was at a tea-party in the evening ; and yet passed one of 
the heaviest days I have toiled through this long time." 
Brevoort, too, seems to have felt the separation, and 
writes : " I long to fill the vacant chair, on the op- 
posite side of the well-recollected table in our private 
sanctuary. Ah ! how often has that friendly table sus- 
tained your incumbent head of a winter's evening! 
What treasures of moral precepts and good-humored 
sallies has that table witnessed ! enough to reform a 


guilty world, but alas! forever lost to an admiring pos- 

lu a letter to Brevoort, of March 29, 1812, we have this 
allusion to the revised edition of Knickerbocker, upon 
which he had been engaged : — 

I have been so much occupied of Late, partly by a severe indisposition of 
my good old mother (who 1ms, however, recovered), and partly by my His- 
tory, that I have not had time to write you a letter worth reading. I will 
atone for it hereafter. I have concluded my bargain with Inskeep and am 
about publishing. I receive ,$1,200 at six months for an edition of 1,500 
copies. lie takes all the expense of printing, etc., on himself. 

In this edition he dropped the dedication to the New 
York Historical Society. 

The war between Great Britain and the United States, 
which broke out in June, 1812, presented no very com- 
fortable prospect to the merchant, and Mr. Irving seems 
to have entertained the most serious forebodings of its 
effect upon the commercial interests. It was probably 
this circumstance that turned his thoughts once more 
into the channel of literature, and induced him to harbor 
a project of a joint undertaking with Paulding, which is 
alluded to at the close of the following extract from a let- 
fcer of the latter. The letter transmits a copy of Paul- 
ding's " Diverting History of John Bull and Brother Jon- 
athan," and is addressed to Washington at the residence 
of Captain Phillips, that favorite rendezvous in the High- 
lands, to which he had gone in August : — 


September 5th, 1812. 

Dear Washington: — 

I send you a copy of "John Bull," who has made some talk here, but I 
believe don't sell very well ; for what reason I leave you to judge, it be- 
ing such an excellent work. There has been an advertisement in the 
papers for a week past, noticing the intended publication of a work, called 
" The Beauties of Brother Bullus, by his sister Miss Bull — a." The title, 
I think, is not very promising; and I have discovered that it is written 
against my Bull. Inskeep says it is the joint production of Parson Mason 
and his Polygraph Bristed, so you see What Goliaths are coming forth 
against me. If this piece should be illiberal towards me, and I can once 
fasten it upon these jockeys, I think there will be a little sport, particu- 
larly if you should be here and inclined to lend a hand. I have finished 
the draft of one essay and am at work with another ; so you see I don't 
forget the main object of our lives; nor do I mean to suffer myself to be 
involved in any controversy that will interfere with our contemplated 
under t. king. 

Wliat this contemplated undertaking was does not ap- 
pear. It was never carried out, very possibly from Mr. 
Irving's being soon after induced to listen to a proposi- 
tion to assume the conduct of a periodical magazine, the 
" Select Reviews," in which Paulding also found scope 
for his pen. 

In the autumn of 1812, Mr. Irving was selected to form 
one of a Committee of Merchants, deputed by the com- 
mercial community to repair to the seat of government, 
to obtain a remission of their bonds. This kept him for 
six weeks at Washington. During this period, he ad- 
dressed several letters to James Renwick, then at the 
early age of nineteen filling gratuitously the chair of 


Natural Philosophy in Columbia College, made vacant 
li\ the <loath of his relative, Dr. Kemp. I have space 
only for the last, which treats of the "Select Keviews" 
I • had undertaken to edit, and makes allusion to a matri- 
monial report, out of which, no doubt, his friends were 
having a little fun at his expense. 

[7b James Renwich.'] 

Washington, Dec. 18, 1812. 
Dear James : — 

In one df your letters you desired to know when I would be in Phila- 
delphia, and you proposed passing the holidays there. I forgot to answer 
the question, nor would I have been able to have done it with certainty. 
I now expect to leave this city to-morrow. Our business is yet undecided, 
and wdl probably linger through several days more ; but I consider the 
battle as won ; and, as there are enough here without me, to take care of 
our interests ; and as it is very important I should be elsewhere, I have 
made up my mind to depart. I may possibly stop a day in Baltimore, as 
I shall meet Gouverneur Kemble there, and I wish to give him a fare- 
well cheering ; T shall then make the best of my way to Philadelphia, 
re I shall probably pass some days ; but, if possible, I will pass 
my holidays in New York. I never wish to spend the merry Christmas 
and jolly New Year elsewhere than in the gamesome city of the Man- 

My dear fellow, you cannot imagine how I long to be once more at 
hum', to doff this burden of care and business, and resume what the 
"Portfolio" calls my "elegant leisure." By-the-bye, I have been 
with flagons and comforted with apples " by these editors and 
newspaper writers, until I am sick of puffing. This "Select Review" 
has drawn upon me such an abundance of worthless compliments, that I 
really stagger under the trash. Add to this, my publisher .... 


has been advertising, every day or two, some new edition and improve- 
ment to be made to the " Select Reviews," of which I have known nothing 
until I saw the advertisements. At one time there is to be a series of 
portraits of our naval commanders, with biographical sketches. At an- 
other, a history of the events of our maritime war, etc., on the plan of 
— the British Naval chronicle ! and here am I — poor I — while absent 
here, tied by the leg to the footstool of Congress, most wickedly made the 
editor of a vile farrago, a congregation of heterogeneous articles, that 
have no possible affinity to one another. 

I have written to Philadelphia that I would not consent to have siich a 
fool's cap put on my head ; and if they intended to interfere in the con- 
duct of the work, I should decline having anything to do with it. I 
think Job was a little out when he wished that his enemy had written a 
book ; had he wished him to be obliged to print one, he would have 
wished him a curse indeed ! . . . . 

Tell your good lady mother that Mrs. Madison has been much indis- 
posed, and at last Wednesday evening's drawing-room Mrs. Gallatin pre- 
sided in her place ; I was not present, but those who were, assure me she 
filled Mrs. Madison's chair to a miracle. You may likewise tell her that 

she may call in her report about Madame and myself as soon as 

she pleases, for it is all over with me in that quarter ; I was last evening 
to have been introduced to her, and to have gone on a little moonlight 
party to Mason's Island ; you may suppose what a favorable opportunity 
it was for sentiment and romance. As my unlucky stars would have it, 
I dined with a choice party at the Speaker's, drank wine, got gay, went 
home, fell asleep by the fireside, and forgot all about Madame un- 
til this morning. Do beg your mother, for God's sake, to look out for 
some other lady for me. I am not particular about her being a princess, 
provided she has plenty of money, a pretty face, and no understanding. 

God bless you, 

W. I. 

Not long after the date of this extract he had returned 


to " the gamesome city of the Manhattoes," whence he 
addressed the following letters : — 

[To Peter Irving at Liverpool.] 

New York, Dec. 30, 1812. 

. . . . I mentioned in former letters that I had undertaken to con- 
duct the " Select Reviews " at a salary of 1,500 dollars. It is an amusing 
occupation, without any mental responsibility of consequence. I felt 
very much the want of some such task in my idle hours ; there is nothing 
so irksome as having nothing to do. You will, in future, send the peri- 
odical publications to me, and from time to time send an account of cost 
and charges, that I may settle with my bookseller. I wish you also to 
forward, as soon as they can be procured, copies of new works that ap- 
pear, that are not of a local or too expensive nature, fit for republication 
in this country. I suppose you can make arrangements with the princi- 
pal booksellers to this effect, who would be attentive to so regular a cus- 
tomer. Any periodical work, besides those at present sent, which you 
may think of importance, I wish you to subscribe to. 

We are all alive at present in consequence of our naval victories. God 
knows they were well-timed to save the national spirit from being de- 
pressed and humiliated by the paltry war on the frontiers. The impolicy of 
depending on militia and volunteers is now made glaringly apparent, par- 
ticularly for offensive war, and the nation is incensed at having its char- 
acter for bravery jeoparded by such short-sighted measures and such mis- 
erable military quacks as have been bolstered into command. Should this 
war continue, resort will be had to regular forces, a larger army will be 
raised by means of increased bounty and pay ; and from the evidences given 
by our regular troops whenever they have had an opportunity to grapple 
with the foe, I make no doubt that they will sustain the national charac- 
ter as gallantly on land as it has been on the ocean 

The day before yesterday a public dinner was given in honor of Hull, 
Jones, and Decatur. It was the most splendid entertainment of the kind 


I ever witnessed. The City Assembly Room was decorated in a very 
tasteful manner with the colors and nags of the Macedonian. Five rows 
of tables were laid out lengthways in the room, and a table across the 
top of the room, elevated above the rest, where the gallant heroes were 
seated, in company with several of our highest civd and military officers. 
Upwards of four hundred citizens of both parties sat down to the dinner, 
which was really sumptuous. The room was decorated with transpar- 
encies representing the battles, etc. The tables were ornamented with 
various naval trophies, and the whole entertainment went off with a soul 
and spirit which I never before witnes3ed. I never in my life before felt 
the national feeling so strongly aroused, for I never before saw in this 

country so true a cause for national triumph 

P. S. — I had almost forgot to mention that Dunlap has nearly finished 
a Biography of Cooke. He wishes to send a copy of the MSS. out to you 
and get you to dispose of it advantageously for him. He will write to 
you particularly on the subject, and, as he is an old friend and a very 
worthy man, I make no doubt you will do everything in your power to 
benefit him 

[To Henry Brevoort.~\ 

New York, Jan. 2, 1813. 
. . . . I am now once more at my old quarters, and am at this 
moment writing at my usual corner of the table before the fire, which 
honest John has just trimmed and replenished ; would to heaven, my 
dear fellow, you were, as formerly, seated opposite to me ! I cannot tell 
you, my good Hal, how very much I miss you. I feel just as I did after 
the departure of my brother Peter, whose place you had, in a man 
grown into and supplied. The worthy Patroon, also, has departed for 
Spain, to reside at Cadiz, and, though I rejoice in his good prospects, yet 
I cannot but deplore his departure. So we get scattered over this trou- 
bled world— this making of fortunes is the very bane of social life ; but, 
I trust, when they are made, we shall all gather together again and pasa 
the rest of our lives with one another. 


When you return we must determine on some new mode of living, for 
I am heartily tired of this boarding-house system. Perhaps it will be 
better to get a handsome set of apartments and furnish them. But of 
this we will talk further when wo meet. I was at your father's two or 
three days since. The old gentleman is highly tickled with the success 
of our navy. He was so powerfully excited by the capture of the Mace- 
donian, that he actually performed a journey to the Brothers, above Hell- 
gate, where the frigates lay, wind-bound ; and he brought away a piece 
of the Macedonian, which he seemed to treasure up with as much devo- 
tion as a pious Catholic does a piece of the true cross. Your mother is 
well, and is looking forward with the utmost impatience for your return. 

A few days since we had a superb dinner given to the naval heroes, at 
which all the great eaters and drinkers of the city were present. It was 
the noblest entertainment of the kind I ever witnessed. On New Year's 
eve a grand ball was likewise given, where there was a vast display of 
great and little people. Little Rule Britannia made a gallant appearance 

at the head of a train of beauties, among whom were the divine H , 

who looked very inviting, and little Taylor, who looked still more so. 

Britannia was gorgeously dressed in a queer kind of hat of stiff purple 
and silver stuff, that had marvelously the appearance of copper, and made 
us suppose she had procured the real Mambrino's helmet. Her dress was 
trimmed with what we simply mistook for scalps, and supposed it was in 
honor of the nation ; but we blushed at our ignorance on discovering that 
it was a gorgeous trimming of marten tips — would that some eminent 
furrier had been there to wonder and admire. 

The little Taylor was as amusing and fascinating as ever. She is an 
arrant little tory, and entertained me exceedingly with her sly jokes 
upon our navy. She looks uncommonly well, and is as plump as a par- 

Our winter does not promise to be as gay even as the last ; neither do 
I feel as much disposition to enter into dissipation. Mrs. Renwick's 
family is in mourning for the death of Dr. Kemp ; of course, they do not 
go abroad so much, and their fireside is more quiet and pleasant 

The Grades are likewise in mourning for the death of old Mrs. Rogers. 


Mrs. Grade's mother. Mr. Graeie has moved into his new house, and i 
find a very warm reception at the fireside. Their country-seat was ono 
of my strongholds last summer, as I lived in its vicinity. It is a charm- 
ing, warm-hearted family, and the old gentleman has the soul of a prince. 

. . . . This war has completely changed the face of things h< 
You would scarcely recognize our old peaceful city. Nothing is taJ 
of but armies, navies, battles, etc. Men who had loitered about, tho 
hangers on and incumbrances of society, have all at once risen to impor- 
tance and been the only useful men of the day. Had not the miserable 
accounts from our frontiers dampened in some measure the public zeal, I 
believe half our young men would have been military mad. As it is, if 
this war continue, and a regular army be raised, instead of depending on 
volunteers and militia, I believe we shall have the commissions sought 
after with avidity by young gentlemen of education and good breeding, 
and our army will be infinitely more respectable, and infinitely more suc- 

I hope this letter may find you on the eve of your departure for this 
country. I do long most earnestly to see you here again. I suppose my 
brother will remain longer in Europe ; and much as I wish to see him 
home once more, I feel content that he should stay until he can return 
with money in both pockets, and the whole of us be able to live after our 
own hearts for the rest of our lives. 

God bless you, my dear fellow. Yours ever, 

W. I. 
Mr. Henry Breyoort, Jr. 

The vessel being detained, he adds in a postscript of 
January 12th. 

Get my brother Peter to have his likeness taken by some good painter, 
and bring it out with you— do not neglect this* Look for scarce and odd 
books, and make up a collection of quaint and curious works. When at 

* Peter, though not ill-favored, would not consent then, or ever, to have his lik 


London visit the Talbot Inn Burrough, nigh Street, Southwark. It is 
the ancient Tabard Inn where your old friend Geoffrey Chaucer and his 
pilgrims lodged on their journey to Canterbury, 1383 ; and they pretend 
to show you the chamber where he supped — vide "Gentleman's Maga- 
zine " for September, 1812. I happened to lay my hands on the passage 
this morning. 



ROM Edinburgh, where Brevoort was busily 
employed in various studies, which were enliv- 
ened by the kind attentions of a most intelli- 
gent circle of acquaintances, he writes to Washington, 
December 9th, 1812 :— 

I have just written to my friend Sherbette in Paris to use his utmost 
endeavors in procuring and forwarding to New York the different peri- 
odical journals of France, as well as those of note published on the con- 
tinent, such, for instance, as Kotzebue's, etc. All these are intended for 
the benefit of " The Independent Columbian Review," which I am happy 
to learn, is soon to issue from Mulberry Street under the fostering care 
of Seth Handaside, Esq., already so advantageously known to the read- 
ing world for his spirited efforts in the cause of letters. 

The work here playfully mentioned as " The Indepen- 
dent Columbian Review," was the " Select Reviews," a 
vol. i.— 15 225 


monthly periodical established in Philadelphia, to which 
allusion has been made in former letters. The name was 
changed to the " Analectic Magazine " when Mr. Irving 
assumed the editorial charge. His contributions, ex- 
tending through the years 1813 and 1814, consisted of a 
review of the works of Kobert Treat Paine, then dead ; 
a review of odes, naval songs, and other occasional poems 
by Edwin C. Holland of Charleston ; a notice of Paul- 
ding's " Lay of the Scottish Fiddle ; " of Lord Byron ; 
" Traits of Indian Character," and " Philip of Pokano- 
ket," afterwards incorporated in the " Sketch Book ; " 
and biographies of Captain James Lawrence, Lieutenant 
William Burrows, Commodore Oliver Perry, and Captain 
David Porter. 

There was also a biographical sketch of Thomas Camp- 
bell, the poet, revised, corrected, aud materially altered 
from the former, published in the March number of 

In addition to these productions from his own pen, he 
received occasional articles from Paulding and Yer- 
planck, which are designated by their respective initials, 
P. and V. 

The conduct of this Magazine, which he had hoped to 
find a mere pastime, proved to be an irksome business. 
He had a great repugnance to periodical labor of every 
description, and to one branch of it, criticism, his aver- 
sion was pointed, for he wished to be just, and could not 
bear to be severe. He shrunk from the idea of indicting 


pain. " I do not profess," he says in one of his articles, 
" the art and mystery of reviewing, and am not ambitious 
of being wise or facetious at the expense of others." 
The naval biographies afforded a more agreeable occu- 
pation. It was a proud satisfaction to record the tri- 
umphs, to quote the strong language of a letter to his 
brother William, " of that choice band of gallant spirits 
who had borne up the drowning honor of their country 
by the very locks," and he hoped by these hasty and im- 
perfect sketches " not merely to render a small tribute of 
gratitude to these intrepid champions of his country's 
honor," but to assist in promoting a higher tone of na- 
tional feeling. 

It was about this period that Mr. Irving received from 
his friend Brevoort the letter of Scott already given, 
speaking in such cordial praise of his " History of New 

Before I left Edinburgh (he writes from London, June 24th), I pre- 
sented Walter Scott with a copy of the second edition of Knickerbocker, 
in return for some very rare books that he gave me, respecting the early 
history of New England. I inclose you a letter that I received from him 
since. You must understand his words literally, for he is too honest and 
too sincere a man to compliment any person. 

In the same letter, after giving a sketch of Sir James 
Mackintosh and other luminaries whom he had met, 
Brevoort adds : — 

And now, having made you slightly acquainted with these eminent 
personages, let me have a higher gratification in making you personally 


known to one of the most distinguished literary ornaments of this coun- 
try. I mean Francis Jeffrey, Esq., of Edinburgh, the conductor of the 
'• Review." 

lie is to embark from Liverpool in the ship Hercules by the 5th of next 
month for Boston, accompanied by his brother, Mr. John Jeffrey, for the 
purpose of settling some domestic concerns. I am deeply indebted to 
him, both for his hospitality to me in Edinburgh, as well as for the let- 
ters he gave me to persons in London. I have endeavored to repay him 
by giving him a letter to you, one to Mr. Hoffman, one to our friend Mrs. 
Kenwick (who is his namesake), and another to Judge Van Ness, besides 
many others to different parts of America. 

I enjoin it upon you all to receive him in the most friendly manner, so 
that I may make some returns to him. 

I really cannot fix upon any man in this country, whose acquaintance 
is better worth cultivating than Mr. J. You will find him full of the 
most precise as well as universal knowledge of men and things on this 
side of the water, which he will delight to communicate as copiously as 
you please. You will do well to see as much of him as you can ; he will 
be glad to make friends with you, and after you have become reconciled 
to somewhat of an artificial manner, you will find him one of the most 
sprightly and best-tempered men imaginable. 

As his introductory letters will be chiefly to persons connected with the 
Federal party, I wish you to make him known to both sides. It is essen- 
tial that Jeffrey may imbibe a just estimate of the United States and 
its inhabitants ; he goes out strongly biased in our favor, and the influ- 
ence of his good opinion upon his return to this country, would go far to 
efface the calumnies and the absurdities that have been laid to our charge 
by ignorant travellers. Persuade him to visit Washington, and by all 
means to see the Falls of Niagara : the obstacles which the war may op- 
pose may be easily overcome, and at all events he may see them without 
ever crossing into Canada. 

As his business is wholly of a private nature, neither political nor com- 
mercial, I hope Government will not limit his motions. 

Your brother has also given Mr. J. a letter to you. 


Mr. Irving could not be indifferent to the pleasure of a 
meeting with this celebrated personage ; but whether he 
obeyed the injunction of his friend and saw as much of 
him as he could, I cannot say. I have heard him recall 
a dinner at Mr. Grade's, in which he was particularly 
brilliant, and he always spoke of him as one of the ce- 
lebrities that did not disappoint you, whose conversation 
was as eloquent as his reviews. 

In the autumn of this year Peter Irving had interested 
himself most warmly in behalf of Thomas Campbell, the 
poet, who was in great need of an American friend to 
secure for him the copyright of a work, which he meant 
to publish contemporaneously in England and the United 
States. Campbell says to him in a letter, dated Septem- 
ber, 17, 1813: "I look back to th3 day we had to our- 
selves at Sydenham as one which I shall never forget ; " 
and in another, a month later (October 19), in return for 
a copying-machine, which Peter had sent him, he writes : 
"It is really like a friend and most warm-hearted on 
your part to take such an interest in my new work. Your 
present shall be beside me, and my constant friend and 
memorial of you, as long as I continue to scribble prose 
or verse." December 15th he invites him to Sydenham 
to meet Mrs. Siddons; and here is Peter's hasty account 
of the visit in a letter to Washington : — 

London, Dec. 18, 1813. 
Mr dear Brother : — 

I this instant learn that a vessel is to sail from Liverpool, but that I 

must write this day, and the hour of limitation is nearly at hand 


The day before yesterday I passed delightfully with Campbell, the 
poet, in his retreat at Sydenham. I had also the further treat of meeting 
Mrs. Siddons there, and having considerable conversation with her dur- 
ing dinner. It was a rich gratification to see the Queen of Tragedy thus 
oat of her robes. Tot her manner even at the social board still partakes 
of the state and gravity of tragedy. Not that there is an unwillingness 
to unbend, but that there is a difficulty^ in throwing aside the solemnity 
of long-acquired habit. She reminded me of Walter Scott's knights 
• ' who carved the meal with their gloves of steel, and drank the red wine 
through their helmets barred." There was, however, entirely the dispo- 
sition to be gracious, and to play her part like herself in conversation. 
She, therefore, exchanged anecdote and incident, in the course of which 
she detailed her feelings and reflections while wandering among the sub- 
lime and romantic scenery of North Wales and on the summit of Pennman- 
mawr. As she did this, her eye kindled and her features beamed, and 
in her countenance, which is indeed a volume where one may read strange 
matters, you might trace the varying emotions of her soul. I was sur- 
prised to find her face, even at the near approach of sitting by her side, 
absolutely handsome, and unmarked with any of those wrinkles which 
generally attend advanced life. Her form is at present becoming un- 
wieldy, but not shapeless, and is full of dignity. Her gestures and move- 
ments are eminently graceful. Mr. and Mrs. Campbell say that I was 
quite fortunate, and might flatter myself on her being so conversible, for 
that she is very apt to be on the reserve towards strangers. The circum- 
stance of being from another quarter of the world has given her an inter- 
est in the conversation she would not otherwise have felt. 

Campbell is just completing a work in three pretty thick octavo vol- 
umes. The subject is to be characters of the principal poets, with speci- 
mens of their writing. From the passages he read to me from the ac- 
count of Sir William Jones and some others, it will be a most eloquent 
and interesting work. He will wish you to dispose of the copyright in 
America, or make such arrangements as may be best for his interest. 
And as he intends the publication to be contemporaneous in both coun- 
tries, and contemplates to publish here about in June, it may be advis- 


able for you instantly to take preparatory steps. The manuscript will bo 
sent in a few weeks. This opportunity is so excessively sudden, that I 
am unable to give further particulars. But lose no time and do every- 
thing the best in your power, as I have a warm friendship for him. Give 
my love to mother and to all. 

Your affectionate brother, 

P. I. 

Washington, however, had no opportunity of support- 
ing the interest of Campbell, as his brother urged, for 
there was greater delay than the poet anticipated in the 
preparation of his work ; and in March, 1814, he informs 
Peter he had come to an arrangement with Murray not 
to deliver his MSS. until September, and that he would 
not publish before December, 1814, or January, 1815 ; 
and he was anxious, if possible, to sell the copyright in 
the United States for as much as it would fetch, instead 
of waiting the slow return of profits by editions. " Of 
that sort of profit," he says, " I have had too sad experi- 
ence on this side of the Atlantic." 

On his return to New York, Brevoort resumed his 
quarters with Irving at Mrs. Eyckman's, No. 16 Broad- 
way, but they soon after changed to Mrs. Bradish's, a 
choice house kept on the most liberal scale at the corner 
of Greenwich and Eector Streets. Here they had, as be- 
fore, a parlor in common. Among the occasional inmates 
in 1814 were that " second Sindbad, Captain Porter," of 
whom Mr. Irving prepared a biographical sketch for the 
" Analectic," and Commodore Decatur and his wife. 

In the subjoined extract we have a playful account of 


a transient visit to the household of his brother, who 
was absent on a tour with his wife. The interest and 
diversion he found with children was characteristic of 
him through life. 

[To Ebenezer Irving.] 

New York, August 12, 1813. 
Dear Brother : — 

I have just come from your house, where they are all well and in good 

order The children are very hearty, and exceeding good 

boys. They were highly delighted with your letter, received yesterday, 
in which you mention them all ; and Pierre assures me that Theodore 
not only spells Ba-ba, but Di-al, which he intends informing you of un- 
der his own hand. He has been projecting a mighty letter to you for 
several days, but has been delayed by a great scarcity of pen, ink, and 
paper. The two latter, he informed me this morning, he had procured, 
but was in want of a pen. I have put him in the way of getting one, 
and trust he will find no further difficulty in accomplishing this great 
undertaking. I have told him to write on one page of a sheet, and I will 
fill up the letter. He said he supposed his mamma would be able to tell 
his writing from mine ; but to make him quite easy on that score I have 
agreed that we shall each put our names to our respective letters. 



R. IRVING bad deeply regretted that the diffi- 
culties between England and the United States 
had reached the lamentable extremity of war, 
but, hostilities once commenced, his sympathies were all 
on the side of his country. In his biographical sketch 
of Perry, published in the "Analectic Magazine," he 
writes : — 

Whatever we may think of the expediency or inexpediency of the pres- 
ent war, we cannot feel indifferent to its operations. Whenever our arms 
come in competition with those of the enemy, jealousy for our country's 
honor will swallow up every other consideration — our feelings will ever 
accompany the flag of our country to battle, rejoicing in its glory, la- 
menting over its defeat. For there is no such thing as releasing our- 
selves from the consequences of the contest. He who fancies he can stand 
aloof in interest, and by condemning the present war, can exonerate hiin- 



self from the shame of its disasters, is woefully mistaken. Other nations 
will not trouble themselves about our internal wranglings and party ques- 
tions ; they will not ask who among us fought, or why we fought, but 
how we fought. The disgrace of defeat will not be confined to the con- 
trivers of the war, or the party in power, or the conductors of the battle ; 
but will extend to the whole nation, and come home to every individual. 
If the name of American is to be rendered honorable in the fight, we shall 
each participate in the honor ; if otherwise, we must inevitably support 
our share of the ignominy. 

With such sentiments, watching with mingled pride 
and sorrow the alternations of defeat and success, it may 
be imagined with what a feeling of outraged patriotism 
he heard of the triumphant entry of the British into 
Washington, and the acts of uncivilized hostility which 

He was descending the Hudson in the steamboat when 
the tidings first reached him. It was night, and the pas- 
sengers had betaken themselves to their settees to rest, 
when a person came on board at Poughkeepsie with the 
news of the inglorious triumph, and proceeded in the 
darkness of the cabin to relate the particulars ; the de- 
struction of the President's house, the Treasury, War, 
and Navy offices ; the Capitol, the depository of the na- 
tional library and public records. There was a momen- 
tary pause after the speaker had ceased, when some 
paltry spirit lifted his head from his settee, and in a tone 
of complacent derision " wondered what Jimmy Madison 
would say now." "Sir," said Mr. Irving, glad of an 


escape to his swelling indignation, " do you seize on such 
a disaster only for a sneer? Let me tell you, sir, it is 
not now a question about Jimmy Madison, or Jimmy 
Armstrong.* The pride and honor of the nation are 
wounded ; the country is insulted and disgraced by this 
barbarous success, and every loyal citizen would feel the 
ignominy and be earnest to avenge it." " I could not see 
the fellow," said Mr. Irving, when he related the anec- 
dote to me, " but I let fly at him in the dark." A mur- 
mur of approbation followed the outburst, and then 
every ear was listening for the reply, but the energy of 
the rebuke had cowed the spokesman, for he did not 
again raise his voice. 

The spirit shown in this rebuke did not evaporate in 
words. On his arrival in New York he repaired imme- 
diately to Governor Tompkins with an offer of his ser- 
vices. The latter showed no backwardness in securing 
the new recruit, and at once made him his aide and mili- 
tary secretary with the rank of Colonel. The letters 
addressed to him at this period bear this martial des- 
ignation; "Washington Irving, Esquire,' being trans- 
formed into " Colonel "Washington Irving." A general 
order of the commander-in-chief, of 2d September, 1814, 
bears the signature of " Washington Irving, Aide-de- 

This destruction of Washington kindled a flame of 

* The Secretary of War. 


patriotic energy throughout the country. The citizens 
of New York had before been busy in making prepara- 
tions to repel a threatened invasion, but this urged them 
to the completion of their works of defense with redou- 
bled spirit. The city was alive with the zeal of its in- 
habitants. Persons exempt from military service enrolled 
themselves anew; all trades and professions took their 
tour of duty at the line of fortifications, raised night and 
day on the heights of Brooklyn and Harlem ; even cler- 
gymen with their parishioners sometimes volunteered in 
these measures of defense ; and teachers with their juve- 
nile scholars also turned out for a day's duty. The vic- 
torious outrage was well stigmatized in the House of 
Parliament as an " enterprise which most exasperated 
the people, and least weakened the Government of any 
recorded in the annals of war." Scarcely two weeks had 
elapsed before the disgrace was wiped out in the death 
of the invading general, the repulse of the British at Bal- 
timore, the defeat of England's veterans at Plattsburg, 
and the overthrow and surrender of her fleet on Lake 
Champlain. If Mr. Irving entered upon his military 
functions at a disastrous period, it was not long before 
he had cause for rejoicing. 

He had been two or three weeks in the staff of the 
governor when it became necessary for the latter to pro- 
ceed to Albany to attend an extraordinary session of the 
legislature, which he had convened to meet on the 26th 
of September. 


From Albany lie writes to Brevoort, at Burlington, on 
Lake Chaniplain, September 26th, 1814 : — 

I have been incessantly occupied since I saw you by the duties of my 
station ; and feel more pleased than ever with it. I am veiy anxious to 
hear how matters go with you. I think there is no prospect of immediate 
peace, and am of opinion that, should the British wait the results of the 
present campaign, they will rather be disposed to continue hostilities, to 
wipe out the stains of late defeats. This scourging campaign has on the 
whole been thus far a degrading one to them, and the victory on Cham- 
plain will be a pill not easily swallowed. I wish you would treasure up 
all the striking particulars you may hear concerning it, as I must give 
McDonough a dash. 

Shortly after his arrival at Albany, it was rumored 
that Sackett's Harbor was threatened with an attack by 
land and water ; and eager to share in the excitement, 
the secretary requested from the governor some mission 
to the lines*. He was accordingly sent to Sackett's Har- 
bor with discretionary powers to consult with the com- 
manding officers stationed there ; and, if necessary, to 
order out more militia. 

I leave this (he writes from Albany to his brother Ebenezer, September 
28th), at four o'clock in the morning for Sackett's Harbor. Affairs, I am 
afraid, are about to look squally on our Canada frontier. Drummond 
has fallen back to Fort George, and Brown is not in sufficient force to 
pursue him. Izard has landed at Genesee River ; and by the time he 
forms a junction with Brown, or advances on Fort George, Drummond, I 
apprehend, will be able to get to the head of the lake, so that I think lie 
has escaped from our clutches. In the meanwhile, we hear that Chauncey 
is at Sackett's Harbor. If the enemy takes the lake with his large ship, 


Chauncey is dished ; he dare not come out, and may be attacked in the 
harbor by land and sea. It is said he does not mean to remain in the 
harbor ; but to put out again immediately. As there is no regular force 
there of any consequence, I shall be empowered, if on consulting the 
officers there, it is deemed necessary, to order out a requisite militia force. 
Should matters be safe there, and the lake be unmolested by the enemy, 
I think it probable I shall sad to the upper part of it, and visit Brown's 
army ; having powers to transact business there, if necessary. 

The tra veiling, at present, is rough ; but the expedition will be a very 
interesting one. 

He proceeded to Utica in the stage, and at that point 
took horse for Sackett's Harbor, which with all diligence 
he could not reach under three days, for the roads 
were exceedingly heavy, and the journey rough and toil- 
some, though not without interest. A great part of his 
lonely ride lay through the track which he had traversed 
with the Hoffmans and Ogdens in 1803 ; but eleven years 
had made great changes in the face of the country. 

At the close of an account of this forest ride, left 
among his papers, he says : — 

After toUing along this rough road, amidst the most lonely and savage 
scenery, I at length came to where the country suddenly opened ; Sackett's 
Harbor lay before me — a town which had recently sprung up in the bosom 
of this wilderness ; beyond it the lake spread its vast waters like an ocean, 
no opposing shore being visible ; while a few miles from land rode a 
squadron of ships of war at anchor on the calm bosom of the lake, and 
looking as if they were balanced in the air. 

The next day he writes : — 


[To Ebenezer Irving.] 

Sackett's Harbor, Oct. 3, ISM. 

Dear Brother : — 

I arrived here this morning after incessant travelling through the mire 
for four or five days— the last three on horseback. The British have com- 
pleted their large ship, and she has dropped down to Snake Island, where 
she lays under the batteries.* Chauncey lays at anchor about six miles 
off the harbor. It is expected the British will immediately take the lake, 
and Chauncey be obliged to come in. Preparations are making to resist 
an attack by land and sea, which is expected. Breastworks are throwing 
up and pickets erected, which will inclose the whole place, and form pro- 
tection for the militia. I have been constantly employed at the general's 
quarters all day, so that I have not been able to look about me. In com- 
pliance with the instructions of the governor, I have ordered out a large 
reinforcement of militia, and hope they may come in time ; but there is 
a sad deficiency of arms and military munitions. I write in great haste, 
as the mail is on the point of departing. Give my love to mother and 
the family ; I am in excellent health, and feel all the better for hard 
travelling. Should there be no business to detain me here, I shall leave 
this place in a day or two. I wish first to visit Chauncey's fleet, and 
should like to witness an action were there a prospect of an immediate 

The first wish -was gratified the next day. In a letter 
to his brother William he says : — 

The Lady of the Lake happening to come into the harbor, I went out 
in her to the fleet, which lay at anchor off Stoney Island, about eleven 
miles distant, and remained aboard with Chauncey for part of two days : 
during which time he took me round the little fleet, and I had a fine op- 
portunity of witnessing their admirable order and equipment, It is a gal- 
lint little squadron, and I could not but regret continually that it should 

* A mistake. She had not dropped down. This large ship was the St. Lawrence, ot 


be doomed to rot in a fresh-water pond. The Superior is by great odds 
the finest frigate I was ever on board of. Her gun-deck shows a tremen- 
dous battery. I was in hopes of having an opportunity of looking into 
Kingston harbor and getting a peep at that big ship, which is the bug- 
beai of these seas ; the Lady of the Lake, however, was not sent on a 
reconnoitring expedition while I was in the fleet, and I did not think 
proper to make any request. 

Nothing could exceed the surprise of Chauncey on re- 
ceiving Mr. Irving on board of his ship in these remote 
solitudes. " You here ? " he exclaimed, in extending his 
hand ; " I should as soon have thought of seeing my 

As there was no immediate prospect of anything at 
Sackett's Harbor, the aide set off on the 7th of October, 
for Albany, in company with a commissary. 

As they were wending their way towards Utica they 
were constantly meeting with squads of militia from 
Herkimer, Oneida, and the Black River counties, trudg- 
ing towards Sackett's Harbor to reinforce the inadequate 
defense for that place, who would hail him as they passed 
with " What news of the Big Ship ? " then jeer him for 
going the wrong way, and banter him to face about, little 
dreaming that it was to him they were indebted for the 
summons to turn out. 

On the 12th of October he was again in New York, 
having every reason to be delighted with his position in 
the governor's staff. In a letter to his brother William, 
at Washington, he says (October 14th) : — 


I feel more and more satisfied with my situation. It gives mc a charm- 
ing opportunity of seeing all that is going on, and Tompkins is absolute ly 
one of the worthiest men I ever knew. 1 find him honest, candid, prom] fc, 
indefatigable, with a greater stock of practical good sense and p 
talent than I had any idea he possessed, and of nerve to put into immedi- 
ate execution any measure that he is satisfied is correct. I expect he will 
have the command here in a few days, in which case my situation will bo 
everything I could wish. 

A letter of the 27th October to tlie same brother 
says : — 

The governor arrived in town yesterday, and this day will take com- 
mand. I expect and hope he will keep his staff stirring, and have been 
endeavoring as much as the little leisure I have would permit to prepare 
myself for the duties of my situation. 

These duties were sufficiently agreeable, but he used 
frequently to be annoyed by the good-humored facility 
of Tompkins in giving audience to the hosts of danglers 
that beset a man in office, when his time was too pre- 
cious for such courtesy, even if his personal dignity had 
not required a more chary demeanor. " Let me," he 
would sometimes say in a spirit of friendly expostula- 
tion, " receive their messages, and, if it be important for 
you to see them, I will admit them one at a time. Some 
degree of form and etiquette is indispensable." Tomp- 
kins would consent, but soon his good-nature would get 
the better of his dignity, and he would sally forth to 
meet some importunate demand from without, when his 
attention would be instantly claimed by a multitude of 
VOL. i. — 16 


other spirits in waiting. " I had constantly to go ont," 
said once the quondam aide to me, " and dig him out of 
the crowd." 

While Washington was in the staff, his brother Wil- 
liam was representing his native city in Congress. This 
brother, like himself, lacked confidence for a public 
speaker, and was too apt to become embarrassed and 
break down under any formal attempt to deliver his 
views ; while in conversation he spoke with an anima- 
tion and fluency that once elicited from the distinguished 
Lowndes of South Carolina the exclamation, grasping 
him at the same time by the hand, " Why in the name of 
God, will you not speak in this way in the House ? " He 
could not, however, command his nerves, and lost heart 
whenever he attempted to speak ; so that, during the 
seven years that he was in Congress, though an efficient 
and popular member, he rarely rose to his feet. The 
following extract from a letter of Washington, dated De- 
cember 20th, 1814, and which I quote in illustration of 
the writer's sensitive patriotism, has reference to one of 
the few occasions on which he broke silence. It was on 
a bill to authorize a draft of militia from the several 
States. His speech took strong ground in favor of a 
vigorous prosecution of the war, and reprobated the mis- 
taken economy which, by withholding what was neces- 
sary, rendered useless what was bestowed. The bill, as 
introduced, provided for eighteen months' service, but 
was reduced to twelve. 


As to the bill on which you spoke (writes Washington), I consider it 
another of those skeleton measures, which, after having been stripped oi 
flesh, and blood, and muscles, is sent forth to mock the country with a 
mere shaking of dry bones. We shall now have men for six month 
drill and make soldiers of, and six months to feed and support in w int. -r- 
quarters. If it had been eighteen months we might have had two cam- 
paigns out of them, or if six months, we could have one and no after 
trouble and expense of keeping them through a long winter : I think you 
were right, however, to support any show of defense, though I regret that 
you were not able to effect anything more substantially efficient. I am 
really heartsick at the present wretched state of public affairs, and loathe 
that make-shift policy that has only aimed at scuffling through present 
embarrassments, and maintaining present popularity at the risk, or rather 
certainty, of future confusion and disaster. 

A few days after this, Governor Tompkins repaired to 
Albany to attend the session of the legislature, leaving 
General Boyd in command of the station. Mr. Irving's 
connection with the staff was consequently dissolved 
without anything having occurred to give prominence to 
his brief military career of four months, or test his mar- 
tial accomplishments. He used jokingly to speak of an 
equestrian mischance of the governor as the only event 
of his campaign. Tompkins was about to visit a fort on 
Brooklyn Heights, manned by marines. It was sur- 
rounded by a deep trench, over which you passed into 
the fort by a somewhat narrow causeway. The governor, 
who was not over-firm in the stirrups, had a rather met- 
tlesome steed, and, fearing the effect of the customary 
salute, sent his aide in advance to have it dispensed 


with. The marines would not be balked in this way. 
They were annoyed at being disappointed of their salute, 
and, determined upon some ceremonial of respect, when 
the governor was making his exit, by a preconcerted 
movement they jumped upon the cannon, and made the 
welkin ring with their cheers. Never was a popular 
demonstration so ill-timed. The governor was just cross- 
ing the causeway, when, startled with the stentorian 
chorus, the horse gave a pirouette, and the next thing I 
saw, said his aide, was Tompkins lying in the ditch and 
his steed bounding madly away. The aide hastened to 
the rescue of his dismounted chief, and was glad to per- 
ceive that he had received no greater injury than a 
sprained thumb and a sudden sickness of the stomach ; 
but ever afterwards — on such perilous occasions — the 
governor was apt to give his steed to him and borrow for 
the nonce his " Archy." This was a little bay of which 
he once wrote, " I never had occasion to lay the whip on 
his back, and, indeed, would almost as soon have had it 
laid on my own." * 

Of a piece with this military history was his jesting 
advice to Samuel Swartwout, the Major of the Iron 
Greys, a choice corps of volunteers to which his friend 
Brevoort belonged. The Major was very fussy about 
their equipments ; first this thing was wrong, then that ; 

* A letter to his brother Ebenezer furnishes this other characteristic 
token of affection for the animal : "When you next visit little Archy's 
stall, pat him on the sides for me." 


now their guns were too light, then they were too heavy. 
" Put two men to a gun, Sam," was the remedy advised 
under the last annoyance. 

Soon after his retirement from the staff, Washington 
made a jaunt to Philadelphia, and had thoughts of pro- 
ceeding to the seat of government to apply for a commis- 
sion in the regular army, but was prevented in the way 
detailed in the following letter to his brother William : — 

Philadelphia, January 15, 1815. 

Deae Bbother : — 

On arriving in Philadelphia I find that Bradford and Inskeep have 
failed and ruined poor Moses Thomas, the bookseller, who publishes the 
" Analectic." This will detain me here some time to arrange my affairs 
with him and settle about the future fate of the Magazine. This circum- 
stance, and the vileness of the roads, etc., have induced me to give up my 
intention of visiting Washington for the present. I shall therefore return 
to New York in about a week. 

He "signed off what was owing to him," and being 
anxious that the Magazine should not fall through, ef- 
fected an arrangement by which it was continued, though 
he never resumed the editorship. 

Before he returned from Philadelphia, where his stay 
was prolonged to the beginning of February, came the 
news of the victory of New Orleans and the tidings of 

During his absence his friend Decatur had put to sea 
in the frigate President and been captured by a British 
squadron. Having been released, he got back to the city 


in time to witness the illumination which announced the 
rejoicing of the citizens at the return of peace ; but he 
had scarcely arrived when an act passed the two Houses 
of Congress, announcing the existence of a state of war 
between the United States and Algiers. The Dey of 
Algiers had taken advantage of the war with England to 
prey upon the commerce of the United States in the 
Mediterranean, and several citizens had been confined in 
prisons, and large sums refused for their ransom. Two 
squadrons were accordingly fitted out to obtain redress. 
The command of the first was offered to Decatur, and of 
the second to Bainbridge. This last was to follow the 
first, and on its arrival in the Mediterranean the com- 
mander of the first was to return in a single vessel, and 
leave the two squadrons in charge of Bainbridge. The 
command of the first had been offered to Decatur by the 
government in token of their undiminished confidence ; 
yet he hesitated about accepting it, and consulted Irving 
on the subject. The latter was his fellow-boarder at Mrs. 
Bradish's, whence Decatur had started on his unfortu- 
nate cruise, leaving his wife behind, who was miserable 
during his absence, and would sometimes walk her room 
whole nights, incapable of sleep. Mr. Irving strongly 
urged his acceptance, insisting that he should by no 
means lose the opportunity of emerging from the cloud 
which had come over his celebrity by the loss of the 
President; that here was a chance for a brilliant dash; 
that he could precede Bainbridge, who was fitting out at 


Boston, and, as lie expressed it to me, "whip off the 
cream of the enterprise." The distress of his wife at the 
idea of this renewed separation so soon after his return 
caused Decatur to hesitate, but at length he decided to 
go, and, turning suddenly to Mr. Irving, he proposed that 
he should accompany him, offering as an inducement the 
attraction of a cruise in the Mediterranean, and a prom- 
ise to land him wherever he wished. 

The project was too captivating to be resisted. Mr. 
Irving took but half an hour to consult with his brother 
Ebenezer, his partner, and decided to go. His trunks 
were soon packed and on board of the frigate, the Guer- 
riere. Just at this time, when on the eve of departure, 
came news of Bonaparte's return from Elba, and it was 
deemed prudent by the government to delay the expedi- 
tion for a while under this new turn of affairs. Mean- 
while, Mr. Irving thought he perceived some little wav- 
ering on the part of the Commodore, and unwilling to 
embarrass his decision, should he incline to relinquish 
the command, he had his trunks brought ashore. But as 
he was now fully bent on a voyage to Europe, had made 
all his preparations, and was sure, as he thought himself, 
of fortune's favors from the success of the commercial 
establishment into which he had been admitted, he de- 
termined to embark, and mingle for a while in the ex- 
citing scenes that seemed to be opening on that side of 
the Atlantic. 

The fleet weighed anchor on the 20th of May, ami if 


Mr. Irving had accompanied Decatur, as he was so near 
doing, he would have been on board of his vessel in her 
brilliant action with the Mazouda, which took place in 
less than a month after the gallant hero had sailed, and 
in which the Algerine frigate was captured, and Ham- 
mida, her famous Eais or Admiral, killed. 

It was on the 25th of May, only five days after the 
departure of Decatur, that he bade adieu to his aged 
mother, his brothers, and friends, and embarked on 
board of the ship Mexico for Liverpool, looking forward 
to a pleasant voyage, but little dreaming that the ocean 
he was to cross would roll its waters for seventeen years 
between him and his home. 



p. IKVING had led a very listless life for a 
month, or two before he left New York, and was 
building, at his departure, large anticipations 
upon the exciting scenes that would follow the return of 
Bonaparte from Elba. The curtain, however, had already 
fallen upon this brief interlude w r hen he landed at Liver- 
pool. The first spectacle which met his eye, was the 
mail coaches coming in, decked in laurel, and dashing 
proudly through the streets with the tidings of the battle 
of Waterloo and the flight of Napoleon. From this time 
he was all alive to watch the progress of Bonaparte's 
disastrous career, though his letters are somewhat spar- 
ing of remark on the astounding catastrophe. In writing 
to Brevoort, July 5th, he observes : — 

I have forborne making any comments on the wonderful events that 
are taking place in the political world. They are too vast and astonish- 



ing to bo grasped in the narrow compass of a familiar letter, and, indeed, 
as yet I can do nothing but look in stupid amazement, wondering with 
vacant conjecture "what will take place next ?" I am determined, how- 
ever, to get a near view of the actors in this great drama. 

In pursuit of this purpose in part he went up to Lon- 
don for a few days before Parliament rose, and on his 
return to Birmingham he thus records his impressions of 
the prince and people most deeply interested in these 
momentous events : — 

Since I wrote you last (to Ebenezer, July 21st) I have made a short 
visit to London, where I was much gratified by seeing the Ilouse of 
Lords in full session, and the Prince Regent on the throne, on the pro- 
roguing of Parliament. The spirits of this nation, as you may suppose, 
are wonderfully elated by their successes on the continent, and English 
pride is inflated to its full distention by the idea of having Paris at the 
mercy of "Wellington and his army. The only thing that annoys the 
honest mob is that old Louis will not cut throats and lop off heads, and 
that Wellington will not blow up bridges and monuments, and plunder 
palaces and galleries. As to Bonaparte, they have disposed of him in 
a thousand ways ; every fat-sided John Bull has him dished up in a 
way to please his own palate, excepting that as yet they have not observed 
the first direction in the famous receipt to cook a turbot — "first catch 
your turbot." 

In a postscript he adds : — 

The bolls are ringing, and this moment news is brought that poor 
Boney is a prisoner at Plymouth. John has caught the Turbot ! 

I am extremely sorry (he writes to his brother William the same day) 
that his carcsr has terminated so lamely ; it's a thousand pities he had 
not fallen like a hero at the battle of Waterloo. 

OF WASHINGTON III J ' ! . w /. i . ~ | 

And soon after, announcing to Brevoort that Bona- 
parte had at length left the coast for St. Helena, he says, 
with a strong feeling of sympathy for his fallen fortu 
and the dreary exile to which he was devoted : — 

I must say I think the Cabinet has acted with littleness towards him. 
In spite of all his misdeeds, he is a noble fellow, and I am confident v. ill 
eclipse, in the eyes of posterity, all the crowned wiseacres that have 
crushed him by their overwhelming confederacy. 

If anything could place the Prince Regent in a more ridiculous light, 
it is Borraparte suing for his magnanimous protection. Every compli- 
ment paid to this bloated sensualist, this inflation of sack and sugar, 
turns to the keenest sarcasm ; and nothing shows more completely the 
caprices of fortune, and how truly she delights in reversing the relative 
situations of persons, and baffling the flights of intellect and enterprise — 
than that, of all the monarchs of Europe, Bonaparte should be brought 
to the feet of the Prince Regent. 

" An eagle towering in his pride of place 
Was by a mousing owl hawked at and killed." 

And now, having been led away for a moment to trace 
the tone of his allusion to the vast events that came 
breaking upon him at his arrival on the shores of Eu- 
rope, I return to more domestic details. 

Nearly seven years had passed since his parting with 
Peter, " a fearful lapse of time to gentlemen of a certain 
age ; " yet he found him in manner and conversation so 
much like old times that it soon seemed, he says, as if 
they had parted but yesterday. " I found him," is his 
language to Ebenezer, "very comfortably situated, hav- 
ing handsome furnished rooms, and keeping a horse, gig, 


and servant, but not indulging in any extravagance or 
dash. He lives like a man of sense, who knows he can 
but enjoy his money while he is alive, and would not 
be a whit the better though he were buried under a 
mountain of it when dead." Peter was at this time con- 
fined to the house by an indisposition, which, though 
apparently yielding to strict regimen and medical pre- 
scription, ultimately lengthened into a most tedious ill- 
ness, driving him in September to Harrowgate for the ben- 
efit of the waters, and thence, almost a cripple from rheu- 
matism, to his sister's house in Birmingham, where he 
lingered, an uncomplaining invalid, to the middle of May. 
Washington spent a week with Peter at Liverpool, and 
then took leave of him, seemingly recruiting rapidly in 
health, "for the redoubtable castle of Van Tromp," as 
he playfully styles the residence of his brother-in-law, 
Henry Van Wart, in the vicinity of Birmingham. 

I found (he -mites to Brevoort) the baron and the baroness, and all 
the young Van Tromps, in excellent health and spirits, and most delight- 
fully situated in the vicinity of the town. 

Everything about the little retreat he describes as ex- 
actly to his taste. " The house, the grounds, the house- 
hold establishment, the mode of living ; never before did 
I find myself more comfortably at home." From Bir- 
mingham he went, for a few days, to London, and made 
an excursion thence to Sydenham to visit Campbell, who, 
unfortunately, was not at home. 


I spent an hour (he writes) in conversation with Mrs. Campbell, who is 
a most engaging and interesting woman. Campbell was still engaged in 
getting his critical work through the press ; and as he is a rigid censor 
of his own works, correcting is as laborious as composition to him. He 
alters and amends until the last moment. I am in hopes when he has 
this work off his hands, he will attempt another poem. Mrs. Campbell 
gave me some anecdotes of Scott, but none so remarkable as to dwell in 
my memory. lie has lost much by the failure of the Ballantynes, but is 
as merry and unconcerned to all appearance as ever ; one of the happiest 
fellows that ever wrote poetry. I find it is very much doubted whether 
he is the author of Waverley and Guy Mannering. Brown, one of the 
publishers, positively says he is not. 

It was in this interview with the poet's wife, that the 
conversation took place of which he has given an account 
in the introduction to the American reprint of Beattie's 
"Life of Campbell." 

I had considered (he says) the early productions of Campbell as brilliant 
indications of a genius yet to be developed ; and trusted that, during the 
long interval which had elapsed, he had been preparing something to 
fulfill the public expectation. I was greatly disappointed, therefore, to 
find that, as yet, he had contemplated no great and sustained effort. 
[He expressed to Mrs. Campbell his regret " that her husband did not at- 
tempt something on a grand scale."] "It is unfortunate for Campbell," 
said she, ' ' that he lives in the same age with Scott and Byron. " I asked 
why. "0!" said she, "they write so much and so rapidly. Xow 
Campbell writes slowly, and it takes him some time to get under way ; 
and just as he has fairly begun, out comes one of their poems, that sets 
the world agog, and quite daunts him, so that he throws by his pen in 
despair." I pointed out the essential difference in their kinds of poetry, 
and the qualities which ensured perpetuity to that of her husband. 


"You can't persuade Campbell of that," said she. " Tie is apt to under- 
value his own works, and to consider his own little lights put out when- 
over they come blazing out with their great torches." 

I repeated the conversation to Scott (continues Mr. Irving) some time 
afterward, and it drew forth a characteristic comment, 

"Pooh !" said he, good-humoredly, "how can Campbell mistake the 
matter so much ? Poetry goes by quality, not by bulk. My poems are 
mere cairngorms, wrought up, perhaps, with a cunning hand, and may 
pass well in the market as long as cairngorms are the fashion ; but they 
are mere Scotch pebbles, after all ; now Tom Campbell's are real diamonds, 
and diamonds of the first water." 

From London Mr. Irving returned to his "English 
home," the domestic circle at Birmingham, and made an 
excursion thence to Kenilworth, Warwick, and Strat- 
ford-on-Avon with James Renwick. 

After pausing a few days at Birmingham, on their re- 
turn, he and Renwick set out again on a tour by the way 
of Bath and Bristol through South and North Wales to 
Liverpool, where he joined his brother Peter about the 
middle of August. " I found Renwick," he writes, " an 
excellent travelling companion, and from his uncommon 
memory an exceeding good book of reference, so as to 
save me a vast deal of trouble in consulting my travelling 
books." He gives no particulars of his " delightful tour," 
but his pencil memoranda abound with sketches taken 
on his route, and record in language that cannot clearly 
be deciphered that he clambered up to the tower of the 
cathedral which commands a noble view of the valley in 
which Gloucester stands, and was locked up by the old 


sexton while he accompanied other visitors round the 
church, fearful he might give him the slip. 

Soon after Washington got to Liverpool, Peter left for 
Harrowgate, and his indisposition continuing, his ab- 
sence was prolonged through more than eight months. 

Washington had now to take charge of the establish- 
ment, which, as he was very inexperienced, was a suffi- 
cient employment for all his faculties. The confused 
manner in which the business had been conducted in 
consequence of Peter's illness and the death of his prin- 
cipal clerk, obliged him to examine everything thor- 
oughly, and by that means to acquaint himself with 
every detail. Averse as he was to business, he now gave 
himself up to it entirely, and he had a faculty of apply- 
ing himself thoroughly to a subject until he had mas- 
tered it. "I am leading a solitary bachelor's life in 
Peter's lodgings," he writes to his mother, September 
21st, " and perhaps should feel a little lonesome were I 
not kept so busy." September 24th, he was instituting 
an examination into the accounts of the concern, and 
having the books brought up, for which purpose he had 
studied book-keeping. 

I bring together some passages from his letters to 
Brevoort during this period. 

Liverpool, Aug. 19, 1815.— .... I received a very good, that 
is to say, a very characteristic letter from that worthy little tar, Jack 
Nicholson, dated 7th July, on board the Flambeau off Algiers; and giv- 
ing a brief account of our affairs with Algiers. He mentions that " they 


fell in with and captured the admiral's ship, and killed him." As this is 
all Jack's brevity will allow him to say on the subject, I should be at a 
loss to know whether they killed the admiral before or after his capture. 
The well-known humanity of our tars, however, induces me to the former 

This triumph will completely fix Decatur's reputation ; he may now 
repose on his laurels, and have wherewithal to solace himself under their 
shade. Give my hearty congratulations to Mrs. Decatur, and tell her 
that now I am willing she shall have the Commodore to herself, and wish 
her all comfort and happiness with him. A gallanter fellow never 
stepped a quarter-deck. God bless him ! 

Sept. 8. — I am in hopes of soon seeing Charles King,* in Liverpool, 
to await the arrival of his family. I saw much of him while in Lon- 
don, and as you may suppose, found him a most desirable companion in 
the metropolis. Charles is exactly what an American should be abroad 
— frank, manly, and unaffected in his habits and manners ; liberal 
and independent in his opinions, generous and unprejudiced in his 
sentiments towards other nations, but most loyally attached to his 

I should like to see the "National Intelligencer," now that Jim is 
writing for it. The late triumphs on the continent will be sore blows to 
Jim's plans; they will materially delay the great object of his life — the 
overthrow of the British empire. 

During this interval, though his letters to Brevoort 
might savor of pleasantry, the sordid cares of the count- 
ing-house took up his whole time and completely occu- 
pied his mind, " so that at present," he writes in Octo- 
ber, " I am as dull, commonplace a fellow as ever figured 
upon 'Change." At this time he had begun to apprehend 

* Now President of Columbia College. 


that Peter, following too many others at that period, had 
purchased too deeply for their capital, and he had be- 
come very anxious and apprehensive about their fall 
payments, and how he was to meet the great demands 
for funds which began to press upon them. 

His constant injunction to his brother Ebenezer, who, 
meanwhile, was straining every nerve to do it, was to re- 
mit continually until all the goods were paid for ; not to 
flag, nor think, because he had done well, he could af- 
ford for a time to do nothing. 

I could not help smiling (says he) at a passage in one of brother Wil- 
liam's letters to Van Wart, wherein he intimates that they should have to 
stop to take breath from remitting ; but in the meantime he must wait 
patiently and do his best. This was something like the Irishman calling 
to his companion, whom he was hoisting out of the well, to hold on below 
while he spit on his hands. 

On the 10th of November Mr. Irving was able to 
" emerge from the mud of Liverpool, and shake off the 
sordid cares of the counting-house," and join "the little 
family circle at Birmingham," where Peter was now con- 
fined in helpless inactivity. From Birmingham he made 
a three weeks' visit to London, returning in time to eat 
his Christmas dinner with his relatives, and to learn how 
cruelly circumstances had operated against their fall 
business ; the goods that had been shipped for New York 
failing, through adverse winds, to reach that market in 
season, and having to lie over for the spring. Notwith- 
vol. 1. — 17 


standing this great discouragement, Ebenezer wrote in a 
cheerful and resolute spirit, but it was easy to foresee 
how much their difficulties must be increased from this 
source, and what a taste they were likely to have of the 
anxieties, embarrassments, and disadvantages of an over- 
strained business. 

I close the year 1815 with the following letter to Bre- 
voort, which touches upon his visit to London, and his 
theatrical experiences : — 

Bieminghaji, December 28, 1815. 
Dear Bbevooet : — 

It is a long while since I have heard from you ; and since your last, 
"we have been very uneasy, in consequence of hearing of your being dan- 
gerously ill. Subsequent accounts, however, have again put you on your 
legs, and relieved us from our anxiety. I have lately been on a short 
visit to London; merely to see sights, and visit public places. Our 
worthy friend Johnson, and his brother, arrived in town while I was 
there, and we were frequently together. The Governor enjoyed the 
amusements of London with high zest, and, like myself, was a great fre- 
quenter of the theatres — particularly when Miss O'Neil performed. We 
were both agreed that were you in England, you would infallibly fall in 
love with this " divine perfection of a woman." She is, to my eyes, the 
most soul-subduing actress I ever saw. I do not mean from her personal 
charms, which are great, but from the truth, force, and pathos of her act- 
ing. I never have been so completely melted, moved, and overcome at a 
theatre as by her performances. I do not think much of the other novel- 
ties of the day. Mrs. Mardyn. about whom much has been said and writ- 
ten, is vulgar without humor, and hoydenish without real whim and vivac- 
ity ; she is pretty, but a very bad actress. Kean— the prodigy — is cried 
up as a second G-arrick — as a reformer of the stage, etc., etc. ; it may be 
so. He may be right, and all the actors wrong: this is certain, he is either 


very good or very bad — I think decidedly the latter ; and I find no me- 
dium opinions concerning him. 

I am delighted with Young, who acts with great judgment, discrimi- 
nation, and feeling. I think him much the best actor at present on the 
English stage. IlLs Hamlet is a very fine performance, as is likewise his 
Stranger, Pierre, Chamont, etc. I have not seen his Macbeth, which I 
should not suppose could equal Cooper's. In fact, in certain characters, 
such as may be classed with Macbeth, I do not think that Cooper has his 
equal in England. Young is the only actor I have seen that can be com- 
pared with him. I cannot help thinking that if Cooper had a fair chance, 
and the public were to see him in his principal characters, he would take 
the lead at once of the London theatres. But there is so much party 
work, managerial influence, and such a widely spread and elaborate sys- 
tem of falsehood and misrepresentation connected with the London thea- 
tres, that a stranger, who is not peculiarly favored by the managers or 
assisted by the prepossessions of the public, stands no chance. I shall 
never forget Cooper's acting in Macbeth last spring, when he was stimu- 
lated to exertion by the presence of a number of British officers. I havo 
seen nothing equal to it in England. Cooper requires excitement to 
arouse him from a monotonous, commonplace manner he is apt to fall 
into, in consequence of acting so often before indifferent houses. I pre- 
sume the crowded audiences, which I am told have filled our theatres this 
season, must bring him out in full splendor. 

While at London I saw Campbell, who is busily employed printing his 
long-promised work. The publisher has been extremely dilatory ; and 
has kept poor Campbell lingering over the pages of this work for months 
longer than was necessary. He will in a little while get through with 
the printing of it ; but it will not be published before spring. As usual, 
he is busy correcting, altering, and adding to it, to the last, and cannot 
turn his mind to anything else, until this is out of hand. 

Later in life, after fuller opportunity of seeing him, 
Mr. Irving wrote to Brevoort of Kean as follows : — 


Kean is a strange compound of merits and defects. His excellence 
consists in sudden and brilliant touches— in vivid exhibitions of passion 
and emotion. I do not think him a discriminating actor, or critical 
either at understanding or delineating character; but he produces effects 
which no other actor does. He has completely bothered the multitude ; 
and is praised without being understood. I have seen him guilty of the 
grossest and coarsest pieces of false acting, and most "tyrannically 
clapped " withal ; whde some of his most exquisite touches passed un- 

Miss O'Neil, of whom lie writes with such enthusiasm 
in the letter just given, afterwards played a round of her 
most effective parts at Birmingham ; and Mr. Irving was 
so completely carried away by his admiration of her 
acting, that when offered to be introduced to her he de- 
clined, unwilling to take the risk of a possible disen- 
chantment. She had lost herself so completely in the 
characters she represented that he feared to have the 
illusion broken. " Well," said Scott, when he afterwards 
told him of his reasons for this avoidance, " that was very 
complimentary to her as an actress, but I am not so sure 
that it was as a woman." 



HAVE no intention for the present of visiting the continent. 
I wish to see business on a regular footing before I travel for 
pleasure. I should otherwise have a constant load of anxiety 
on my mind. 

So wrote "Washington to his brother Ebenezer at the 
close of 1815. Yielding to a roving propensity, "the 
offspring of idleness of mind and a want of something to 
fix the feelings," he had pulled up anchor in New York 
seven months before to drift about Europe in search of 
novelty and excitement, ready, as he expresses it, " to 
spread his sails wherever any vagrant breeze might carry 
him," and now, for weary months, he is detained in Liver- 
pool by irksome and unexpected employment, and we 
find him at the opening of another year renouncing every 
project he had in view when he embarked, and sighing 
for the easy, unconcerned days and tranquil nights he 

had enjoyed before he left. 



Peter still continued an invalid at Birmingham. "Wash- 
ington, therefore, went to Liverpool after New Tear to 
put business in train for the next month's payments, and 
then start for London, " to endeavor to make some finan- 
cial arrangements." Expecting little from remittances 
for some time to come, he wished to make matters easy 
ahead as much as possible. " I would not again," he 
writes from Liverpool, January 9th, 1816, "experience 
the anxious days and sleepless nights which have been 
my lot since I have taken hold of business to possess the 
wealth of Croesus." The next evening he left that city 
for Birmingham, where he spent a few hours on the mor- 
row, and then proceeded to London, in which city he 
remained two months. I give some extracts from a letter 
to Brevoort, dated at Birmingham, March 15, 1816 ; after 
his return from that city. 

My dear Brevoort : — 

I have received your most kind letter of February 18th, and also the 
magazines and newspapers, forwarded by Mr. Selden. I believe I am also 
still in your debt for your letters of the 1st January ; but, indeed, I have 
been so completely driven out of my usual track of thought and feeling 
by "stress of weather" in business, that I have not been able to pen a 

single line on any subject that was not connected with traffic 

We have, in common with most American houses here, had a hard winter 
of it in money matters, owing to the cross purposes of last fall's business, 
and have been harassed to death to meet our engagements. I have never 
passed so anxious a time in my life ; my rest has been broken, and my 
health and spirits almost prostrated; but thank Heaven, we have weath- 
ered the storm, and got into smooth water ; and I begin to feel myself 


again. Brom* has done wonders, and proved himself an able financier ; 
and, though a small man, a perfect giant in business. 1 cannot help 
mentioning that James Renwick has behaved in the most gratifying man- 
ner. At a time when we were exceedingly straitened, I wrote to him beg- 
ging to know if he could in any way assist us to a part of the amount we 
were deficient. He immediately opened a credit for us to the full amount, 
guaranteeing the payment of it, and asking no security from us than our 
bare words. But the manner in which this was done, heightened the 
merit of it, from the contrast it formed to the extreme distrust and ten- 
fold caution that universally prevailed throughout the commercial world 
of England, in the present distressed times 

I have had much gratification from the epistles of that worthy little 
tar, Jack Nicholson, who, I find, still sighs in the bottom of his heart for 

the fair , though he declares that his hopes do not aspire to such 

perfection. Why did not the varlet bring home the head of Rais ITam- 
mida, and lay it at her feet ? that would have been a chivalric exploit 
few ladies could have withstood ; and if Paulding had only dished him up 
in full length (if I may be allowed the word), in a wood-cut in the " Naval 
Chronicle," like little David of yore, with the head of Goliah in his fist, 
I think his suit would have been irresistible. f 

. . . . I wish you would send to me the numbers of the "An- 
alectic Magazine " that have the Traits of Indian Character and the story 
of King Philip; likewise a copy of the "History of New York ;" send 
them by the first opportunity. 

He was probably meditating at this time a revised edi- 
tion of Knickerbocker, with illustrations by Allston and 
Leslie, whom he had met in London. 

At the date of this letter Mr. Irving hoped that they 
had now got through their difficulties, and that future 

* A nickname for his brother Ebenezer. 

t The "American Naval Chronicle" formed a department of the Analeclic Migazine, 
to which Paulding was contributing the biographies. 


business would not merely be profitable, but easy and 
pleasant ; and with such feelings he returned to Liver- 
pool, leaving Peter still at Birmingham, not yet " able to 
trust his rheumatic limbs out of the house." He was 
destined, however, to find " everybody dismal," from the 
hard times, and to continue to lead an anxious life. 
May 9th he writes to Brevoort : — 

I was in hopes of hearing from you by the Rosalie, but was disap- 
pointed. A letter from you is like a gleam of sunshine through the dark- 
ness that seems to lower upon my mind. I am here alone, attending to 
business ; and the times are so hard, that they sicken my very soul. 
Good God ! what would I give to be once more with you, and all this 
mortal coil shuffled off my heart. 

About this time Peter returned to Liverpool reestab- 
lished in health, and his presence enabled Washington 
once more to repair to Birmingham. But he had been 
" so harassed and hag-ridden by the cares and anxieties 
of business," and had been so long " brooding over the 
hardships of the disordered times," that it was in vain 
that he attempted to divert his thoughts into other chan- 
nels and employ himself with his pen. " My mind is in 
a sickly state," he writes July 16th, "and my imagination 
so blighted that it cannot put forth a blossom nor even a 
green leaf. Time and circumstances must restore them 
to their proper tone." 

The sunny spot in this gloomy year was a little excur- 
sion into Derbyshire which he concerted with Peter, 


when a suspension for a while of dismal letters from 
New York left him a disposition for a ramble among the 
scenes described by " old Izaak Walton." This excur- 
sion was made about the beginning of August. The rest 
of the year was spent under his sister's roof at Birming- 
ham, in a vain attempt to revive the literary feeling. 

On the 23d of February in the following year he went 
back to Liverpool, feeling that his company was impor- 
tant to keep up Peter's spirits. 

About this time Mr. Irving was preparing a new edi- 
tion of his " History of New York," for which Allston 
and Leslie were making designs. In a letter from the 
former, dated London, April 15, he remarks : — 

I have made a design for your Knickerbocker, but I shall say nothing 
about it, as I hope you will soon be here to see it. 

He then speaks of having " added four new incidents 
to the first three acts of the play " he was intending to 
offer to the theatres, and adds in a postscript : " I have 
completed a sketch, and am making other preparations 
for a large picture ; but more of this when I see you. I 
promise myself much advantage as well as pleasure from 
your society the ensuing summer." 

This expectation, however, was put to flight by a sud- 
den resolution of Mr. Irving to return home, which gives 
occasion to the following interesting letter from Allston, 
in which he unfolds the design of his large picture, and 
of his sketch for Knickerbocker : — 


London, 9th May, 1817, » 
8 Buckingham Place, Fitzroy Sq. ) 

Dear Irving : — 

Your sudden resolution of embarking for America has quite thrown 
me, to use a sea- phrase, all a-back ; I have so many things to tell you of 
— to consult you about, etc., and am such a sad correspondent, that be- 
fore I can bring my pen to do its office, 'tis a hundred to one but the 
occasions for which your advice would be wished, will have passed and 
gone. One of these subjects (and the most important) is the large picture 
I talked of soon beginning : The prophet Daniel interpreting the hand- 
writing on the wall before Bclshazzar. I have made a highly finished 
sketch of it, and I wished much to have your remarks on it. But as your 
sudden departure will deprive me of this advantage, I must beg, shouid 
any hints on the subject occur to you during your voyage, that you will 
favo^ me with them, at the same time you let me know that you are 
again safe in our good country. I think the composition the best I ever 
made. It contains a multitude of figures, and (if I may be allowed to 
say it) they are without confusion. Don't you think it a fine subject ? I 
know not any that so happily unites the magnificent and the awful : a 
mighty sovereign, surrounded by his whole court, intoxicated with his 
own state — in the midst of his revelings, palsied in a moment under the 
spell of a preternatural hand suddenly tracing his doom on the wall before 
him ; his powerless limbs, Like a wounded spider's shrunk up to his body, 
while his heart, compressed to a point, is only kept from vanishing by 
the terrific suspense that animates it during the interpretation of his 
mysterious sentence : his less guilty, but scarcely less agitated queen, the 
panic-struck courtiers and concubines, the splendid and deserted ban- 
quet table, the half-arrogant, h'llf-astounded magicians, the holy vessels 
of the Temple (shining, as it were, in triumph through the gloom), and 
the calm, solemn contrast of the Prophet, standing like an animated pillar 
in the midst, breathing forth the oracular destruction of the empire ! 
The picture will be twelve feet high by seventeen feet long. Should I 
succeed in it even to my wishes I know not what may be its fate. But I 
leave the future to Providence. Perhaps I may send it to America, 


Agreeably to your request I send, by the coach, the design for Knicker- 
bocker. The subject is Wouter Van Twiiler's decision in the case ol 
Wandle Schoonhoven and Barent Bleecker. I think the astonished con- 
stable the best figure. Indeed, that relating to him appeared to me the 
driest part of the joke. Let me know how you like it. If you don't like 
it — mind — I sha'n't be offended. Tis a sad bore to be obliged to laugh 
through complaisance ; so I won't take it amiss even though you should 
be grave upon it. By the bye, I should like to know whether that lawsuic 
satirizes any living persons. If so. I should be sorry, for though they 
may cheerfully join in the laugh themselves at a ridiculous description, 
they would not so well bear a pictured personal caricature. Do let me 
know, and I will make a design for another part of the book that shall 
hurt nobody. Now, don't laugh at me. I would only be a harmless 
creature. I send at the same time a design by Leslie. The subject is I be 
Dutch courtship. It is really a very beautiful drawing. If you mean to 
have them engraved, I think they had better be done here. They could 
not engrave them well in America. Here they would be well done, and 
much cheaper. If you think so too, and will leave them with your 
brother to be sent to me, I will see that they are properly done. You will 
probably see in New York a little picture of "Rebecca at the Well" 
which I painted last summer for my friend Van Schaick. My friends 
here thought it one of my best pictures. I hope he likes it. I have not 
heard. I shall not regret that I have written so much about myself if it 
induce you, in return, to favor me with some of your plans and projects. 
Wishing you a prosperous voyage, and happy meeting with your 
friends, I remain truly your friend, 

Washington Allston. 

Campbell, also, under the impression that he was 
about returning to America, had sent him the printed 
sheets of the greater part of the first two volumes of his 
new work, wishing him to try if something could not be 
procured for it. 


In the conclusion of his letter, dated May 26th, he re- 
marks : — 

I congratulate you on the happiness of returning to your native land. 
Alas ! you leave us in sad times. I have been just telling Ogilvie that if 
things get worse here I shall expect to finish my days teaching Greek in 
America. I fear our political horizon is brewing a storm that will not 
soon be allayed. I see no termination of our difficulties. God knows I 
love my country, and my heart would bleed to leave it, but if there be a 
consummation such as may be feared I look to taking up my abode in the 
only other land of Liberty, and you may behold me perhaps flogging 
your little Spartans of Kentucky into a true sense and feeling of the 
beauties of Homer. 

Mr. Irving sent the sheets to his friend Brevoort, with 
an earnest request that he would do what he could to 
promote the poet's interest, and in the conclusion of his 
letter gives this explanation of his change of purpose : — 

I received some time since your kind letter urging my return. I had 
even come to the resolution to do so immediately, but the news of my 
dear mother's death put an end to one strong inducement that was con- 
tinually tugging at my heart, and other reasons have compelled me to 
relinquish the idea for the present. 

What the " other reasons " were, does not appear. 

The death of his mother, which was the main cause of 
his postponement, took place on the 9th of April. When 
he parted from her in New York he had expected to re- 
turn after a short absence and settle down beside her for 
the rest of her life. She was near seventy-nine when she 


I now follow with the reply to Allston's letter. 

[ To Wash ington A llstoji. ] 

Birmingham, May 21, 1817. 

My dear Allston : — 

Your letter of the 9th instant, and likewise the parcel containing the 
pictures, came safely to hand, and should have been acknowledged sooner, 
but I hare been much discomposed since last I wrote to you, by intclli- 
gence of the death of my mother. Her extreme age made such an event 
constantly probable, but I had hoped to have seen her once more before 
she died, and was anxious to return home soon on that account. That 
hope is now at an end, and with it my immediate wish to return ; so that 
I think it probable I shall linger some time longer in Europe. 

I have been very much struck with your conception of the warning of 
Belshazzar. It is grand and poetical, affording scope for all the beauties 
and glories of the pencil ; and if it is but executed in the spirit in which 
it is conceived, I am confident will insure you both profit and renown. 

As to its future fate, however, never let that occupy your mind, unless 
it be to stimulate you to exertion. As to sending it to America, I would 
only observe that, unless I got very advantageous offers for my paintings, 
I would rather do so — as it is infinitely preferable to stand foremost as 
one of the founders of a school of painting in an immense and growing 
country like America — in fact, to be an object of national pride and af- 
fection, than to fall into the ranks in the crowded galleries of Europe, or 
perhaps be regarded with an eye of national prejudice, as the production 
of an American pencil is likely to be in England. I will not pretend at 
this moment to discuss the merits of your design for the proposed paint- 
ing ; I do not feel in the vein ; but if, at a more cheerful moment, any 
idea suggests itself that I may think worth communicating, 1 will write 
to you. 

I cannot express to you how much I have been pleased with the two 
designs for Knickerbocker. The characters are admirably discriminated, 
ihe Lumor rich but chaste, and the expression peculiarly natural and 


appropriate. I scarcly know which figure in your picture to prefer ; the 
constable is evidently drawn con amore, and derives additional spirit from 
r ! anding in high relief opposed to the ineffable phlegm of old Wouter. Still, 
however, the leering exultation of the fortunate party is given to the very 
life, and is evident from top to toe — the bend of the knee, the play of the 
elbows, the swaying of the body, are all eloquent ; and are finely con- 
trasted with the attitude and look of little Schoonhoven. By the way, I 
must say the last figure has tickled me as much as any in the picture. 
But each has its peculiar merits, and is the best in its turn. The sketch 
by Leslie is beautiful. The Dutch girl is managed with great sweetness 
and naivete. The expression of her chin and mouth shows that she is 
not likely to break her lover's heart. The devoted leer of the lover's eye 
and the phlegmatic character of the lower part of his countenance, form 
a whimsical combination. The very cat is an important figure in the 
group, and touched off with proper expression ; a delicate humor pervades 
the whole ; the composition is graceful, and there is a rural air about it 
that is peculiarly pleasing. 

I dwell on these little sketches because they give me quite a new train 
of ideas in respect to my work; and I only wish I had it now to write, as 
I am sure I should conceive the scenes in a much purer style, having 
these pictures before me as correctives of the grossierte into which the 
writer of a work of humor is apt to run. At any rate, it is an exquisite 
gratification to find that anything I have written can present such pleas- 
ing images to imaginations like yours and Leslie's ; and I shall regard the 
work with more complacency, as having in a measure formed a link of 
association between our minds. 

The lawsuit was an entirely imaginary incident, without any personal 
allusion, though by a whimsical coincidence there was a Barent Bleccker 
at Albany who had been comptroller ; and his family at first suspected 
an intention to asperse his official character. The suspicion, however, 
was but transient, and is forgotten ; so that the picture will awaken no 

I had no idea, when I began this letter, that I should have filled the 
sheet ; but words beget words ; I shall write to you again before long, 


and will then endeavor to direct my attention to topics more immediately 
interesting to you. In the meanwhile give my most friendly remem- 
brances to Leslie, and believe me truly yours, 

Washington Irving. 

Some time in June, William C. Preston, then a young 
man of twenty-three, afterwards a distinguished Senator 
of the United States, arrived in Liverpool, where he 
made the acquaintance of the author, with whom and his 
brother Peter he arranged a pedestrian excursion into 
Wales. I find among Mr. Irving's papers some rough 
notes of this excursion, made in the latter part of June. 

They were afterwards together, as will be seen, in 

July 11th he writes to Brevoort, who kept urging his 
return : — 

I have no intention of returning home for a year at least. I am wait- 
ing to extricate myself from the ruins of our unfortunate concern, after 
which I shall turn my back upon this scene of care and distress, and shall 
pass a considerable part of my time in London. I have a plan, which, 
with very little trouble, will yield me for the present a scanty but suffi- 
cient means of support, and leave me leisure to look around for something 
better. I cannot at present explain to you what it is. You would prob- 
ably consider it precarious, and inadequate to my subsistence, but a 
small matter will float a drowning man. 

The plan here hinted at was to make some arrange- 
ments with booksellers for the republication in America 
of choice English works, and to throw them into the 
hands of Moses Thomas, the Philadelphia publisher, at a 


stipulated compensation. It was a plan -which could give 
him present subsistence, and enable him, in the mean- 
while, to employ his pen, to which his thoughts now 
began to turn, though he kept it a secret even from 

At this period of gloom and disaster he received from 
one whose name will recur hereafter the following ani- 
mating and almost prophetic epistle. The writer had 
made the acquaintance of Mr. Irving in the United 
States, which he visited about the time of the completion 
of " Salmagundi," as a lecturer on eloquence and criti- 
cism, introducing a style of reading and speaking, traces 
of which, I have been told, remain to this day. He was 
the son of Dr. Ogilvie, the Scottish poet. 

London, July 22d, 1817. 

The intelligence, my dear Irving, of the misfortune you have sustained, 
has reached me, and as it may affect the prosperity and happiness of per- 
sons near and most dear to you, all my sympathy with your feelings was 

So far, however, as you are individually concerned, I should deem the 
language of condolence a sort of mockery. 

I am perfectly confident that even in two years you will look back on 
this seeming disaster as the most fortunate incident that has befallen 

Yet in the flower of youth, in possession o; higher literary reputation 
than any of your countrymen have hitherto claimed, esteemed and be- 
loved by all to whom you are intimately or even casually known, you 
want nothing but a stimulus strong enough to overcome that indolence 
which, in a greater or less degree, besets every human being. This seem- 
ingly unfortunate incident will supply this stimulus — you will return with 



renovated ardor to the arena you have for a season abandoned, and in 
twelve months win trophies, for which, but for this incident, you would 
not even have contended. 

At this moment, in your secret soul, you feel aspirations and Teachings, 
which presage and guarantee the completion of all and more than all to 

which I look forward 

Believe me to be, 

Yours most affectionately, 

James Oc.ilvte. 

Soon after the receipt of this letter, Mr. Irving left 
Liverpool for London, where he arrived about the first 
of August, and spent three weeks during the summer 
heats. It was in this interval, as his memoranda show, 
that he made that ramble of observation, depicted in the 
" Sketch Book," in which he was so sorely buffeted 
against the current of population setting through Fleet 
Street, and, in a movement of desperation, tore his way 
through the throng and plunged into a little narrow by- 
way, which led him through several nooks and angles, 
until he found himself in a court of the Temple. Of this 
period we have some further particulars of interest in 
the following passages of a letter to Brevoort, dated 
August 28 : — 

I was in London for about three weeks, when the town was quite de- 
serted. I found, however, sufficient objects of curiosity and interest to 
keep me in a worry ; and amused myself by exploring various parts of 
the city, which in the dirt and gloom of winter would be almost inacces- 

I passed a day with Campbell at Sydenham. He is still simmering 
vol. I. — 18 


over his biographical and critical labors, and has promised to forward 
more letterpress to you. lie says he will bring it out the coming autumn. 
He has now been teasing his brain with this cursed work about seven 
years — a most lamentable waste of time and poetic talent. 

Campbell seems to have an inclination to pay America a visit, having 
a great desire to see the country, and to visit his brother, whom he has 
not seen for many years. The expense, however, is a complete obstacle. 
I think he might easily be induced to cross the seas ; and his visit made 
a very advantageous one to our country. He has twelve lectures written 
out on poetry and belles-lettres, which he has delivered with great ap- 
plause to the most brilliant London audiences. I believe you have heard 
one or two of them. They are highly spoken of by the best judges. 
Now could not subscription lists be set on foot in New York and Phila- 
delphia, among the first classes of people, for a course of lectures in each 
city ; and when a sufficient number of names is procured to make it an 
object, the lists sent to Campbell with an invitation to come over and 
deliver the lectures ? It would be highly complimentary to him — would 
at once remove all pecuniary difficulties ; and, if he accepted the invita- 
tion, his lectures would have a great effect in giving an impulse to Amer- 
ican literature, and a proper direction to the public taste. Say the sub- 
scription was ten dollars for the course of lectures. I should think it an 
easy matter to fill up a large list at that rate ; for how many are there in 
New York, who would give that sum to hear a course of lectures on belles- 
lettres from one of the first poets of Great Britain ! I sounded Campbell 
on the subject, and have no doubt that he would accept such an invitation, 
Speak to Ren wick on the subject, and if you will take it in hand I am sure 
it will succeed. Charles King would, no doubt, promote a thing of the 
kind ; and Dr. Hosack would be delighted to give his assistance, and 

would be a most efficient aid I saw two or three of the Lions 

of the " Quarterly Review" in Murray's Den ; but almost all of the liter- 
ary people are out of town ; and those that have not the means of travel- 
ling lurk in their garrets, and affect to be in the country ; for you know 
these poor devils have a great desire to be thought fashionable. 


The proposition here suggested in Campbell's behalf 
was taken up in America, but afterwards discouraged by 
himself ; he pleading that he was too old. 

The following letter gives an account of a dinner at 
Murray's, and has allusion to his project of procuring 
works for republication in America, with glimpses of 
Scott, Campbell, and D'Israeli, the author of the " Curi- 
osities of Literature" and other works which had a 
great currency in the United States. "King Stephen" is 
Stephen Price, the manager of the Park Theatre in New 
York, and the " Dusky Davy " is Longworth, the pub- 
lisher of " Salmagundi," and who at this time aspired to 
a monopoly in the publication of plays. " Mishter Mil- 
ler " is the London bookseller who preceded Murray in 
the publication of the " Sketch Book." 

[To Peter Irving, Esq.] 

London, August 19, 1817. 
Mr dear Brother : — 

I have yours of the 17th. I received likewise the parcel, which con- 
tained a letter from Brevoort, and one from Mrs. Bradish. I inclose Bre- 
voort's to you. 

I had a very pleasant dinner at Murray's. I met there with D'Israeli, 
and an artist, just returned from Italy with an immense number of 
beautiful sketches of Italian scenery and architecture. 

D'Israeli's wife and daughter came in, in the course of the evening, and 
we did not adjourn until twelve o'clock. I had a long tete-a-tete with 
old D'Israeli in a corner. He is a very pleasant, cheerful old fellow ; cu- 
rious about America, and evidently tickled at the circulation his works 
have had there ; though, like most authors just now, he groans at not 


being able to participate in the profits. Murray was very merry and 
loquacious. He showed me a long letter from Lord Byron, who is in 
Italy. It is written with some flippancy, and is an odd jumble. His 
lordship has written 104 stanzas of the 4th canto. He says it will be less 
metaphysical than the last canto, but thinks it will be at least equal to 
either of the preceding. Murray left town yesterday for some watering- 
place, so that I had no further talk with him ; but am to keep my eye on 
his advertisements, and write to him when anything offers that I may 
think worth republishing in America. I shall find him a most valuable 
acquaintance on my return to London. 

I called at Longman & Co.'s, according to appointment, and saw Mr. 
Orme. They are not disposed, however, to make any arrangement. They 
have been repeatedly disappointed in experiments of the kind, and are 
determined not to trouble their thoughts any more on the subject. They 
had just received letters from America on the subject of Moore's poem, 
"Lalla Rookh," which they had sent out either in MSS. or sheets ; but 
there were two or three rival editions in the market, which would prevent 
any profits of consequence. 

They intimated that they would be willing to give an advantage in re- 
spect to the republication of new works, for any moderate price in cash ; 
but they would not perplex and worry themselves with any further ar- 
rangements, which were only troublesome and profitless. They inti- 
mated, for instance, a disposition to sell an early copy of " Rob Roy " for 
a small sum in hand. But as I knew they had not yet received the 
MSS. of that work, I did not make any offer. It will be time enough 
by and by. I find it is pretty generally believed that Scott is the author of 
those novels, and Verplanck * tells me he is now travelling about, col- 
lecting materials for " Rob Roy." I see that there will be a great advan- 
tage in being here on the spot during the literary seasons, with funds to 
make purchases from either authors or booksellers. They consider the 
chance of participation in American republication so very slender and 

* Gulian C. Verplanck. who was then travelling in Europe. 


contingent, that they will accept any sum in hand, as so much money 
found. I have written to Thomas, advising him to remit funds to me for 
the purpose ; if he does so, I will be able to throw many choice works 
into his hands. 

Mishter Miller is full of the project of going out to New York, to set 
up an establishment there. He thinks he will have an advantage in pub- 
lishing plays, from his interest with the theatres here, which will enable 
him to get MS. copies, and the countenance of King Stephen, which has 
been promised him. He talks of embarking in September or October, 
should he be able to make his arrangements in time. He must beware 
the "Dusky Davy." 

In some notes of this dinner at Murray's, which came 
off August 16th, I find this record : " Lord Byron told 
Murray that he was much happier after breaking with 
Lady Byron — he hated this still quiet life." 



tiW lr W^ 

HE following letter from Mr. Irving is dated 
?K£§jiy Edinburgh, August 26th, 1817 ; to which place 
^■4^f : ] he had gone, as well for pleasure as with some 
views to future plans. After giving to his brother Peter, 
to whom it is addressed, some account of his fellow-pas- 
sengers on board the smack Livdy for Berwick, in which 
he had embarked, he proceeds : — 

The first two days of our voyage were unfavorable ; we had rain and 
head wind, and had to anchor whenever the tide turned. But Saturday, 
though calm, was beautiful, with a bright sunny afternoon and a bright 
moon at night. On Sunday we had a glorious breeze, and dashed bravely 
through the water. I have always fine health and fine spirits at sea, 
and enjoyed the latter part of this little voyage excessively. On Mon- 
day morning we came in sight of the coast of Northumberland, which at 
first was wrapped in mist ; but as it cleared away, we saw Dunstanbor- 
ough Castle at a distance ; and sometime after, we passed in full view of 
Bamborough Castle, which stands in bleak and savage grandeur on the 



sea-coast. You may recollect these places, mentioned in the course of 
the Abbess of Hilda's voyage in " Marmion " : — 

" And next they crossed themselves to hear 
The whitening breakers sound so near, 
Where boiling through the rocks they roar 
On Dunstanborough's caverned shore. 
Thy tower, proud Bamborough, marked they there ; 
King Ida's castle, huge and square, 
From its tall rock look grimly down 
And on the swelling ocean frown." 

We next skirted the Holy Isle, which was the scene of Constance de 
Beverly's trial; and where the remains of the Monastery of St. Cuthbert 
are still visible; though apparently converted into some humbler pur- 
poses, as a residence of people that attend the beacons. To make a long 
story short, however, about twelve o'clock I landed at Berwick. I had 
intended proceeding from thence to Kelso, and so to Melrose, etc. ; but I 
found there would be no coach in that direction until Wednesday; so 
I determined to come to Edinburgh direct, and visit Melrose from 
thence. After walking about Berwick, therefore, and surveying its old 
bridge, walls, etc., I mounted a coach and rattled off through the rich 
scenes of Lothian to this place, where I arrived late last night. 

I got the parcel from you this morning ; but neither Mrs. Fletcher nor 
Mr. Erskine are in town. I left a card for Jeffrey, whose family is three 
miles out of town. His brother called on me about an hour afterwards, 
but I was not at home. Edinburgh is perfectly deserted, so that I shall 
merely have to look at the buildings, streets, etc., and then be off. I am 
enchanted with the general appearance of the place. It far surpasses all 
my expectations ; and, except Naples, is, I think, the most picturesque 
place I have ever seen. 

I dined to-day with Mr. Jeffrey, Mrs. Renwick's brother. He informs 
me that Mrs. Fletcher is in Selkirkshire, but that the family is rather 
secluded, having lost one of the young ladies about three months since by 


a typhus fever. 1 did not learn which it was. Mrs. Grant is likewise in 
the Highlands. 

Walter Scott is at Abbotsford; busy, it is supposed, about " Rob Roy," 
having lately been travelling for scenery, etc. They told me at Con- 
stable's that it will be out in October, though others say not untd to- 
wards Christmas. As it will probably be some days before Preston 
reaches here, I do not know but I shall make an excursion to Melrose, and 
make an attempt on Walter Scott's quarters, so as to be back in time to 
accompany Preston to the Highlands. I have a very particular letter 
to Scott from Campbell 

August 27th. — A gloomy morning, with a steady pitiless rain. What 
a contrast to the splendor of yesterday, which was a warm day, with now 
and then a very light shower, and an atmosphere loaded with rich clouds 
through which the sunshine fell in broad masses ; giving an endless 
diversity of light and shadow to the grand romantic features of this 
town. It seemed as if the rock and castle assumed a new aspect every 
time I looked at them; and Arthur's Seat was perfect witchcraft. I 
don't wonder that any one residing in Edinburgh should write poetically ; 
I rambled about the bridges and on Calton height yesterday, in a perfect 
intoxication of the mind. I did not visit a single public building; but 
merely gazed and reveled on the romantic scenery around me. The en- 
joyment of yesterday alone would be a sufficient compensation for the 
whole journey. 

There is nobody in Edinburgh, and I shall merely remain here as 
headquarters from whence to make two or three excursions about the 
neighborhood. I thii k it probable I shall leave this by the 4th of next 

Your affectionate Brother, 

W. I. 

Half-past one. — Jeffrey has just called on me. I am to dine with him 
to-day en famille, and also to-morrow, when I shall meet Dugald Stewart 
and Madame La Voissier, whilom the Countess De Rumford. Jeffrey 


tells me I am lucky in meeting with Dugald Stewart, as he does not come 
to Edinburgh above once in a month. 

P. S. — As I was too late for the mail yesterday, I have reopened this 
letter, merely to add a word or two more. 

I walked out to Jeffrey's castle yesterday with his brother, John Jef- 
frey, and had a very pleasant dinner. I found Jeffrey extremely friendly 
and agreeable ; indeed, I could not have wished a more cordial reception 
and treatment. He has taken an ancient castellated mansion on a lease 
of thirty-two years, and has made alterations and additions, so that it is 
quite comfortable, and even elegant within, and is highly picturesque 
without. Jeffrey inquired particularly after you. He offered me a letter 
to Scott ; but as Campbell's is very particular, I thought it would be suffi- 
cient. He is to mark out a route for me in the Highlands. I expect to 
be much gratified by my dinner there to-day. I find in addition to the 
persons already mentioned, we are to have Sir Humphry Davy's lady, 
who was formerly Miss Apreece, and a belle esprit 

The weather is still sulky and threatening. If it is fine to-morrow, I 
shall probably be off for Melrose. 

[To Peter Irving. J 

Abbotsford, September 1, 1817. 

Mv dear Brother : — 

I have barely time to scrawl a line before the gossoon goes off with the 
letters to the neighboring post-office. 

I was disappointed in my expectation of meeting with Dugald Stewart at 
Mr. Jeffrey's ; some circumstance prevented his coming ; though we had 
Mrs. and Miss Stewart. The party, however, was very agreeable and in- 
teresting. Lady Davy was in excellent spirits, and talked like an angel. 
In the evening, when we collected in the drawing-room, she held forth 
for upwards of an hour ; the company drew round her and seemed to 
listen in mute pleasure ; even Jeffrey seemed to keep his colloquial pow- 
ers in check to give her full chance. She reminded me of the picture of 
the Minister Bird with all the birds of the forest perched on the surround- 


ing brandies in listening attitudes. I met there with Lord Webb Sey- 
mour, brother to the Duke of Somerset. He is almost a constant resident 
of Edinburgh. He was very attentive to me ; wrote down a route for me 
in I lie Highlands, and called on me the next morning, when he detailed 
the route more particularly. I have promised to see him when I return 
to Edinburgh, which promise I shall keep, as I like him much. 

On Friday, in spite of niJlen, gloomy weather, I mounted the top of the 
mail coach, and rattled off to Selkirk. It rained heavily in the course of 
the afternoon, and drove me inside. On Saturday morning early I took 
chaise for Melrose ; and on the way stopped at the gate of Abbotsford, 
and sent in my letter of introduction, with a request to know whether it 
would be agreeable for Mr. Scott to receive a visit from me in the course 
of the day. The glorious old minstrel himself came limping to the gate, 
took me by the hand in a way that made me feel as if we were old friends ; 
in a moment I was seated at his hospitable board among his charming 
little family, and here have I been ever since. I had intended certainly 
being back to Edinburgh to-day (Monday), but Mr. Scott wishes me to 
stay until Wednesday, that we may make excursions to Dryburgh Abbey, 
Yarrow, etc., as the weather has held up and the sun begins to shine. I 
cannot tell you how truly I have enjoyed the hours I have passed here. 
They fly by too quick, yet each is loaded with story, incident, or song ; 
and when I consider the world of ideas, images, and impressions that 
have been crowded upon my mind since I have been here, it seems incred- 
ible that I should only have been two days at Abbotsford. I have ram- 
bled , about the hills with Scott ; visited the haunts of Thomas the 
Rhymer, and other spots rendered classic by border tale and witching 
song, and have been in a kind of dream or delirium. 

As to Scott, I cannot express my delight at his character and manners. 
He is a sterling golden-hearted old worthy, full of the joyousness of 
youth, with an imagination continually furnishing forth pictures, and a 
charming simplicity of manner that puts you at ease with him in a mo- 
ment. It has been a constant source of pleasure to me to remark his 
deportment towards his family, his neighbors, his domestics, his vciy 
dogs and cats; everything that comes within his influence seems to catch 


a beam of that sunshine that plays round his heart ; but 1 shall say moro 
of him hereafter, for he is a theme on which I shall love to dwell. 

Before I left Edinburgh I saw Blackwood in his shop. Ii was acci- 
dental — my conversing with him. He found out who I was ; is extremely 
anxious to make an American arrangement ; wishes to get me to write 
for his Magazine ; (the "Edinburgh Monthly.") Wishes to introduce me 
to Mackenzie, Wilson, etc. Constable called on me just before I left 
town. He had been in the country and just returned. lie was very 
friendly in his manner. Lord Webb Seymour's coming in interrupted us, 
and Constable took leave. I promised to see him on my return to Edin- 
burgh. He is about regenerating the old "Edinburgh Magazine," and 
has got Blackwood's editors away from him in consequence of some feud 
they had with him 

Commend me to Hamilton. I hope to hear from him soon, and shall 
write to him again. 

Your affectionate brother, 

W. I. 

P. S. — This morning we ride to Dry burgh Abbey and see also the old 
Earl of Buchan — who, you know, is a queer one. 

[To the same.] 

Edinburgh, September 6, 1817. 
My dear Brother : — 

.... I left Abbotsford on Wednesday morning, and never left 
any place with more regret. The few days that I passed there were 
among the most delightful of my life, and worth as many years of ordi- 
nary existence. We made a charming excursion to Dryburgh Abbey, but 
were prevented making our visit to Yarrow by company. I was with 
Scott from morning to night ; rambling about the hills and streams, 
every one of which would bring to his mind some old tale or picturesque 
remark. I was charmed with his family. He has two sons and two 
daughters. Sophie Scott, the eldest, is between seventeen and eighteen, 


a fine little mountain lassie, with a great deal of her father's character •, 
and the most engaging f rankness and naivete. Ann, the second daugh- 
ter, is about sixteen ; a pleasing girl, but her manner is not so formed as 
her sister. The oldest lad, Walter, is about fifteen ; but surprisingly tall 
of his age, having the appearance of nineteen. He is quite a sportsman. 
Scott says he has taught him to ride, to shoot, and to tell the truth. The 
younger boy, Charles, however, is the inheritor of his father's genius ; he 
is about twelve, and an uncommonly sprightly amusing little fellow. It 
is a perfect picture to see Scott and his household assembled of an even- 
ing — the dogs stretched before the fire ; the cat perched on a chair ; Mrs. 
Scott and the girls sewing, and Scott either reading out of some old ro- 
mance, or telling border stories. Our amusements were occasionally 
diversified by a border song from Sophia, who is as well versed in border 
minstrelsy as her father. 

I am in too great a hurry, however, to make details. I took the most 
friendly farewell of them all on "Wednesday morning, and had a cordial 
invitation from Scott to give him another visit on my return from the 
Highlands ; which, I think it probable, I shall do. 

I found Preston here on my arrival ; he had been in Edinburgh for 
three days. We shall set off for the Highlands to-morrow. Scott has 
given me a letter to Hector Macdonald Buchanan of Ross Priory, Loch 
Lomond, with a request for him to give me a day on the lake. This Mac- 
donald is a fine fellow, I understand, and a particular friend of Scott. 
He took Scott up the lake lately in his barge, when Scott visited Loch 
Lomond, so I shall be able to trace Scott in his Rob Roy scenery. 

We dined yesterday with Constable, and met Professor Leslie there ; 
with whom I was somewhat pleased, and more amused. 

I have arranged with Constable, greatly to my satisfaction in respect 
to books, etc., and shall be enabled to forward "Rob Roy" in time to 
secure the first publication to Thomas. 

I have also made an arrangement with Blackwood. 

I shall return to Edinburgh after my visit to the Highlands, and 
stop here a day or two ; so you may address letters to me here — Mae- 


I received a very pleasant letter from Hamilton, for which give him 
my thanks, and assure him I will answer it the first leisure moment. 

Affectionately your brother, 

W. I. 

[To the same.] 

Edinburgh, September 20, 1817. 
My dear Brother, : — 

I arrived here late last evening after one of the most delightful excur- 
sions I ever made. We have had continual good weather, and weather of 
the most remarkable kind for the season— warm, genial, serene sunshine. 
We have journeyed in every variety of mode— by chaise, by coach, by 
gig, by boat, on foot, and in a cart : and have visited some of the most 
remarkable and beautiful scenes in Scotland. The journey has been a 
complete trial of Preston's indolent habits. I had at first to tow him 
along by main strength, for he has as much alacrity at coming to anchor, 
and is as slow getting under way, as a Dutch lugger. The grand diffi- 
culty was to get him up in the morning ; however, by dint of persever- 
ance, I at last succeeded in rousing him from his lair at six o'clock, and 
making him pad the hoof often, from morning till night. The early part 
of the route he complained sadly, and fretted occasionally ; but as he pro- 
ceeded, he grew into condition and spirits, went through the latter part 
in fine style, and I brought him into Edinburgh in perfect order for the 

I must hasten to conclude this letter ; this is Saturday, and I wish to 
arrange what I have to do in this place this morning, that I may leave it, 
if possible, on Monday morning. I intend to pay another visit to Abbots- 
ford ; I could not leave Scotland with a quiet conscience, if I did not 
have one more crack with the prince of minstrels, and pass a few more 
happy hours with his charming family. I want to set out another even- 
ing there ; Scott reading, occasionally, from " Prince Arthur " ; telling 
border stories or characteristic anecdotes ; Sophie Scott singing with 
charming naivete a little border song ; the rest of the family disposed in 
listening groups, while greyhounds, spaniels, and cats bask in unbounded 


indulgence before the fire. Everything around Scott is perfect character 
and picture. 

On my return to Edinburgh, I found a most friendly note from Jeffrey, 
dated some time back, inviting me to dinner on the day after, to meet 
again Lady Davy and Sir Humphry ; or three days after to meet Dr. 
Mason of New York. I am too late for either party. 

[To the same.] 

Edinburgh, Sunday, September 22, 1817. 
Dear Brother : — 

I leave Edinburgh in about half an hour on my way to England. I 
have been induced to hasten my departure a little for the purpose of 
having Preston's company, whom, I think it probable, I shall bring to 
Liverpool, and then send him on by South Wales to London. I have 
arranged matters entirely with Constable and Blackwood, and have noth- 
ing further to detain me here. 

I dined yesterday with Jeffrey, and found a very agreeable party of 
Edinburgh gentlemen there ; I cannot but repeat how much I feel 
obliged to Jeffrey for his particular attentions, and the very friendly 
manner in which he has deported towards me. He has made his house 
like a home to me. I have had many kind invitations to return and pass 
part of the winter in Edinburgh, when the fashionable world will be 
here ; and, indeed, I have met with nothing but agreeable people and 
agreeable incidents ever since I have been in Scotland. 

Mr. Constable will send by coach a parcel for me containing an engrav- 
ing from a fine painting which he has of Walter Scott. I wish you to 
take care of it. There are but a limited number of impressions taken ; 
I feel much obliged to Mr. Constable for the present, and great value for 
the engraving. I forgot to mention that I did not visit Inchbracken, as 
the coach to Perth did not go in that direction, and we could not conve- 
niently bring it into our route. We go to Selkirk to-night, and to-mor- 
row shall pay Scott a visit. I do not mean to stop with him, however, as 


I understand he has been ran down with company lately, and must re- 
quire all his leisure to get " Rob Roy " through the press in time. 

I can perceive Constable is a little uneasy lest Scott's time should be 
too much taken up by company. Your affectionate brother, 

W, I. 

Scott was absent on this second call, so that he was 
disappointed in seeing him. 

In a note in his " Life of Scott," Lockhart gives the 
minstrel's impression of his American visitor, which I 
quote : — 

There is in my hand a letter from Scott to his friend John Richardson, 
dated 22d September, 1817, in which he says : " When you see Tom 
Campbell, tell him, with my best love, that I have to thank him for 
making me known to Mr. Washington Irving, who is one of the best and 
pleasantest acquaintances I have made this many a day." 

The situation to which allusion is made in the follow- 
ing letter to Brevoort, was the Secretaryship of Legation 
at the Court of St. James, for which his brother William, 
then in Congress, was exerting himself to get him ap- 
pointed, but without success. The preface shows that 
Brevoort had announced to him his intended marriage. 

Liverpool, October 10, 1817. 

My dear Brevoort :— 

I have received your letter of August 21st, and congratulate you most 
heartily on the happy change you are about to make in your situation. 
I had heard rumors of the affair before I received your letters, and every 
account represented the lady of your choice exactly such a one as your 
best friends could have wished for you. I am almost ashamed to say 
that at first the news had rather the effect of making me feel melancholy 



than p-ln<l. It seemed, in a manner, to divorce us forever ; for marriage 
is th' grave of bachelor intimacies, and after having lived and grown 
Lher for many years, so that our habits, thoughts, and feelings were 
<juit'' blended and intertwined, a separation of this kind is a serious 
matter ; not so much to you, who are transplanted into the garden of 
matrimony, to flourish, and fructify, and be caressed into prosperity, but 
for {Hxtr me, left lonely and forlorn, and blasted by every wind of heaven. 
. . . . I feel gratified by the exertions my friends are making to 
gi t me the situation in London, though I doubt their success. These 
plan's are generally given to political favorites. I merely wanted such a 
situation for a little while. I have no desire to remain long in Europe ; 
still, while I am here, I should like to be placed on good ground, and 
look arouud me advantageously. 

Though William had failed to obtain for Washington 
the Secretaryship of Legation, his situation continued to 
engage his mind ; for early in December I find him writ- 
ing to Ebenezer, froni the seat of government : — 

I have not been inattentive to the situation of brothers Washington 
and Peter. I have had two conversations with Clay on the subject. He 

stands ready to aid in anything that can be suggested You 

may rest assured that I will do my best. I need no pressing on that 
head, for my mind is full of the subject. I think on it night and day. 

The author, however, was shaping his course for him- 
self ; and we have, in the following extract of a letter to 
his brother William, the first indistinct intimation of his 
intention to make a business of literature. 

Liverpool, December 23, 1817. 
. . . . Ebenezer tells me you have been exerting yourself to get 
me apjK)inted to the Secretaryship of Legation at the Court of St. James. 


but without success ; but that you hoped to get some other appointment 
for me. I feel in this as in many other things deeply indebted to your 
affectionate care for my interests ; but I do not anticipate any favors 
from government, which has so many zealous and active partizans to 
serve ; and I should not like to have my name hackneyed about among 
the office-seekers and office-givers at Washington. 

For my own part, I require very little for my support, and hope to be 
able to make that little by my own exertions. I have led comparatively 
such a lonely life for the greater part of the time that I have been in 
England, that my habits and notions are very much changed. For a 
long while past, I have lived almost entirely at home ; sometimes not 
leaving the house for two or three days, and yet I have not had an hour 
pass heavily ; so that if I could but see my brothers around me prosper- 
ing, and be relieved from this cloud that hangs over us all, I feel as if I 
would be contented to give up all the gayeties of life. I certainly think 
that no hope of gain, however flattering, would tempt me again into the 
cares and sordid concerns of traffic 

I have been urged by several of my friends to return home immedi- 
ately ; their advice is given on vaguo and general ideas that it would be 
to my advantage. My mind is made up to remain a little longer in Eu- 
rope, for definite, and, I trust, advantageous purposes, and such as ulti- 
mately point to my return to America, where all my views and wishes, 
my ambition and my affections are centred. I give you this general 
assurance, which, I trust, will be received with confidence, and save the 
necessity of particular explanations, which it would be irksome for me to 
make. I feel that my future career must depend very much upon myself, 
and therefore every step I take at present, is done with proper considera- 
tion. In protracting my stay in Europe I certainly do not contemplate 
pleasure, for I look forward to a life of loneliness and of parsimonious 
and almost painful economy. 
vol. i. — 19 



< ii iSE of his "Jacob's dream."— letter to Leslie. — goes up to london 


N the beginning of the year 1818, after yam and 
harassing attempts to compromise with their 
creditors, Peter and Washington made up their 
minds, as the surest mode of perfect extrication, to take 
the benefit of the Bankrupt Act. It was a humiliating 
ordeal to go through for two proud-spirited men; and 
esp< dally for Washington, who was a mere nominal party 
in the concern. Their first meeting before the Comniis- 
sinners of Rinkrnptcy took place on the 27th of January, 
and their last on the 11th of March. At this time Wash- 
ington had shut himself up from society and was study- 
ing German, day and night, in the double hope that it 
would be of service to him, and tend to keep off uncom- 
fortable thoughts. Three days after he received from 



Allston the following letter, which gives the artist's own 
notion of a new comic subject he had chosen for illus^ 
tration, designed for a third edition of Knickerbocker's 
"History of New York," with other particulars of inter- 
est respecting himself : — 

London, March 13, 1818. 
Mr dear Irving : — 

I received yours of the 5th, and have the pleasure to inform you that 
the drawing is finished, and now in the hands of the engraver ; to whom 
I gave it (since you were so good as to rely on my judgment) as soon as it 
was finished. I gave up the subject which Leslie mentioned, and chose 
another with which I am much better pleased, namely, a Schepen doing 
duty to a Burgomaster's joke. 

Leslie agrees with me in thinking it superior to the lawsuit. Indeed, 
so far as I can judge of my own work, it is one of my happiest comic 
efforts, if not the best. It contains six figures. I think no one could fail 
to see that the Burgomaster is bringing forth a joke ; for the action is so 
contrived as to leave no doubt of it. The Schepen who sits opposite to 
him, is laughing with all Ins might and main ; while the rest of the com- 
pany, who have nothing to gain by a laugh, are impenetrably and most 
Dutchly grave. But I think I had better not describe it. Descriptions of 
pictures are generally flat. Besides, their impression is always better, at 
least truer, when they come upon us without preparation. So the less 
said the better. 

The plate after Leslie's * is finished, and I think you will be very much 
pleased with it. It makes a very beautiful print ; is extremely well en- 
graved, but what particularly pleases me in it, is the close rendering of 
the characters, which is the most important part in subjects of this kind. 
If the engraver preserves mine as well, I shall be amply satisfied. I 
hope the time the engraver demands for graving my drawing will not 

* The allusion is to Leslie's sketch of the Dutch courtship. 


inconveniently affect your plans. His engagements, he says, are so 
:n ■;. just at this time, that he could not possibly promise it sooner 
than four months hence. 

The price, also, is considerably higher than for Leslie's,-' being from 
thirty-five to forty guineas. If he can do it for thirty- five, he says he 
will : but he will not limit himself to less than forty, nor be bound to 

The reason he gives for demanding so much more is the greater num- 
ber of the figures and the quantity of detail. I was a little at a stand 
when I heard this ; but knowing no other engraver of his abilities that 
works so cheap, I concluded it must be done by him even at this rate. 
Do let me know by return of post if you approve of what I have done. 

Since my return from Paris I have painted two pictures, in order to 
have something in the present exhibition at the British Gallery : the sub- 
jecta the angel Uriel in the sun, and Elijah in the wilderness. "Uriel" 
was iur.uediately purchased (at the price I asked, one hundred and fifty 
guineas) by the Marquis of Stafford, and the Directors of the British In- 
stitution, moreover, presented me a donation of a hundred and fifty 
pounds, "as a mark of their approbation of the talent evinced," etc. 
The manner in which this was done was highly complimentary; and I 
can only say that it was full as gratifying as it was unexpected. As both 
these pictures together cost me but ten weeks, I do not regret having de- 
ducted that time from the " Belshazzar, " to whom I have since returned 
with redoubled vigor. 

I am almost sorry I did not exhibit "Jacob's Dream." If I had 
dreamt of this success, I certainly would have sent it there. 

I hope your affairs are being settled to your mind, and that we shall 
see you here soon. Yours affectionately, 

Washington Allston. 

Ogilvie has returned full of health and spirits from his success in Scot 
* Leslie's was twenty-five guineas. 


land. He has overcome his formidable enemy laudanum, and looks like 
another being. Leslie begs to be remembered. 

Of the picture which received this emphatic approba- 
tion from the Directors of the British Institution, Leslie 
had before written to Mr. Irving this opinion : — 

Allston has just finished a very grand and poetical figure of the angel 
Uriel sitting in the sun. The figure is colossal, the attitude and air very 
noble, and the form heroic without being overcharged. In the color he 
has been equally successful, and with a very rich and glowing tone he 
has avoided positive colors, which would have made him too material. 
There is neither red, blue, nor yellow in the picture, and yet it possesses 
a harmony equal to the best pictures of Paul Veronese. 

Mr. Irving was at Birmingham when he received from 
Allston the following reply to a letter on the subject of 
a plate for the Knickerbocker engraving. It is the last 
letter of Allston which I find among his papers, and con- 
cludes with the saddening announcement to his corre- 
spondent that he had taken his passage for America. 

London, July 24, 1818. 
My dear Irvi>-g : — 

You are so accustomed to my apologies for epistolary delinquency that 
they must be to you like old stories; so I had better say nothing about it. 
Leslie, I believe, has already written to you on the subject of the plate. 
I called on the engraver soon after the receipt of your letter, and was 
more grieved than surprised that it was not already finished ; for I know 
the press of his engagements, and remembered the difficulty he had in 
fixing on the time of its completion, when I first put it into his hands. 
I would have strained a point to scold about it, if I had thought that 
would have mended the matter. But as it would not, I could only urge 
the importance of its speedy termination in the strongest way, and leave 


the reel to the engraver, who then promised to finish it as soon as it was 
in Ins power, and he has since engaged to produce a proof in the course 
of t he next week. lie bogged that 1 would not insist on seeing the plate, 
a? he never liked to show his works in an unfinished state. As that is 
also the case with myself, I did not urge it. But I have no doubt, from 
the ability he lias shown in other works, that it will be well done. If 
it is equal to that ho did from Leslie's drawing, I shall be more than 
satisfied. As soon as I see a proof I will write you. 

Now that you arc your own master again, your muse, I suppose, has 
already paid you a visit. Pray do not turn your back upon her, for I 
have it on the testimony of thousands that she has not a greater fav- 
orite than yourself in all Parnassus. Do tell me what you are doing, 
or mean to do. Your imagination has been so long fallow that I an- 
ticipate a most luxurious harvest when you again cultivate it. 

I . slie tells mo he has informed you of the sale of " Jacob's Dream." I 
do not remember if you have seen it. The manner in which Lord Egre- 
mont bought it was particularly gratifying — to say nothing of the price, 
which is no trifle to me at present. But Leslie having told you all about 
it. I will not repeat it. Indeed, by the account he gives me of his letter 
to you, he seems to have puffed me off in grand style. Well, you know 
I don't bribe him to do it. And " if they will buckle praise upon my 
back," why, I can't help it. 

Leslie has just finished a very beautiful little picture of Anne Page in- 
viting Master Slender into the house. Anne is exquisite; soft and femin- 
ine, yet arch and playful, she is all she should be. Slender, also, is very 
happy; he is a good parody on Milton's " linked sweetness long drawn 
out." Falstaff and Shallow are seen through a window in the back- 
ground. The whole scene is very picturesque, and beautifully painted. 
'Tis his best picture. You must not think this praise the "return in 
kind." I give it because I really admire the picture, and I have not the 
smallest doubt that he will do great things when he is once freed from 
the necessity of painting portraits. 

Believe me affectionately yours, 

W. Allston. 


I suppose Leslie has told you that the price of printing your plates 
would be five pounds a thousand — and that on French paper, which is 
the best ; this includes paper. As I shall leave my lodgings in a short 
time, pray direct to me to " the care of Samuel Williams, Esq., No. 13 
Finsbury Square." Lord Egremont has invited me to his seat at Pet- 
worth, and I shall go down there next week. I have taken my passage in 
the Galen from this port. Shall not I see you here before I go ? She 
sails about the tenth of August. 

A few days after the receipt of this letter, Mr. Irving 
writes as follows to Leslie : — 

Birmingham, July 29, 1818. 
My dear Sir : — 

I thank you for your letter and for the information it contains. I have 
since received one from Allston ; but as he will probably be out of town 
about this time, I must trouble you instead of him. I wish the plates put 
in the printer's hands as soon as possible, and to be executed on the 
best paper. Two thousand of each. I should like, also, to have three 
hundred proof impressions of each struck off in such a manner that they 
would do to frame should any persons like to have them in that manner ; 
if not, they can hereafter be cut down to the size of the volume. You 
and Allston will have as many struck off for yourselves as you please. 
Let me know the whole expense, and I will send the money immediately. 
I have had my trunk packed to come to London, and should have attended 
to all this myself, but one circumstance or other occurs to baffle my 
plans, and I am at this moment in a little uncertainty when I shall get 
there. I shall try hard to see Allston before he sails ; had he been going 
to embark at Liverpool the thing would have been certain. I regret ex- 
ceedingly that he goes to America, now that his prospects are opening so 
promisingly in this country ; but perhaps it is all for the best. His 
"Jacob's Dream" was a particular favorite of mine. I have gazed on it 
again and again, and the more I gazed the more I was delighted with it 


lieve if I was a painter I could at this moment take a pencil and 
delineate the whole with the attitude and expression of every figure. 

Allston gives me a charming account of your picture of Anne Page 
arvl Master Slender. I hope you will take frequent opportunities to steal 
away from the painting of portraits to give full scope to your taste and 
_i nation. 

About the middle of August Mr. Irving -went up to 
London and cast himself upon the world, determined to 
seek support from his pen. He had brought with him 
some unfinished sketches upon which he had been en- 
gaged, and which he had hoped to work up, but the very- 
foreboding of his mind seemed to unfit it for compo- 

He had been but two weeks in London when he was 
called to the hard trial of parting with Allston. On first 
arriving in London he heard from Leslie that Allston 
was dining with Coleridge at Highgate, and he went 
out there to meet him, and tried in vain to dissuade him 
from returning by urging he could do better where he 
was. Until informed of his intention to embark for 
America he had been looking forward with delight to a 
meeting with him and Leslie, and to an exchange of the 
hard and painful life he had been leading for one of in- 
tercourse with them. "As he drove off in the sta^e and 
waved his hand to me," said Mr. Irving, in adverting to 
this parting, " my heart sank within me, and I returned 
gloomy and dispirited to my lodgings." At another time 
he said of Allston to me : — 


He was the most delightful, the most lovable being I ever knew ; a 
man I would like to have had always at my side — to have gone through 
life with ; his nature was so refined, so intellectual, so genial, so pure. 

But though he felt deeply the departure of Allston, he 
could still hope for sympathy and companionship from 
Leslie and Newton. Leslie he had known as a boy, when 
he was attracting attention at Philadelphia by his like- 
ness of Cooke, the actor, and he had met him since 
during his transient visits to London ; but their intimacy 
dates from the period of his present sojourning in the 
English capital. Leslie writes to him more than two 
years afterwards : — 

You came to London just when I was losing Allston, and I stood in 
need of an intimate friend of similar tastes with my own. I not only owe 
to you some of the happiest social hours of my life, but you opened to 
me a new range of observation in my art, and a perception of qualities 
and characters of things which painters do not always imbibe from each 

Stuart Newton he now met for the first time. He 
was the nephew of Gilbert Stuart, so well known for his 
celebrated portrait of Washington, and Leslie had met 
him the preceding year at Paris on his way from Italy to 

In the following year, about fifteen months after he had 

come up to London, he writes thus of the two to Mrs. 

Hoffman : — 

My especial intimates are our young countrymen, Leslie and Newton, 
who have lodgings not far from mine, so that we see each other almost 
every day. You have no doubt heard of Leslie's rapidly increasing repu- 

298 l' 11 ' 1 " AND LETTERS 

i. 11. lias done himself vast credit lately by a beautiful picture of 
Sir Roger de Coverley going to church. He bids fair to take the lead in 
thai : lino of painting, which consists in the delineation 

miliar life. I make no doubt, in the course of a little while, he will 

■ f the most celebrated and most popular painters in Great Britain. 

Be lias all the materials within him for excelling in the walk he has 

n a deep sense of moral feeling ; an exquisite idea of beauty ; a 
quick eye for character, and for external nature ; a rich vein of humor, 
1 and sweetened by the purest benevolence of heart; add to these 
a perfeel devotion to his art, and an intimate knowledge of everything in 
it that depends upon study and diligent practice, and I think you will agree 
with me in forming the highest anticipations of his future celebrity. 

Newton is the nephew of Stuart, our great portrait painter. He is not 
so experienced in his art as Leslie, but has uncommon requisites for it. 
There is a native elegance about everything he does ; a delicate taste, a 
playful fancy, and an extraordinary facility at achieving, without ap- 
parent labor or study, what other painters, with the labor and study of 
years, cannot attain, nis eye for coloring is almost unrivaled, and pro- 
duces beautiful effects, which have surprised experienced painters, who 
have been aiming at coloring all their lives. The only danger is that his 
uncommon natural advantages may make him remiss in cultivating the 
more mechanical parts of his art ; and he may thus fall short of that pre- 
eminent stand in his profession which is completely within his rea.h, 
tli' nigh he cannot fail at all events to become a highly distinguished 
painter. He is yet but a student in his art, but has produced several ad- 
mirable portraits, a little fancy piece of Falstaffs escape in the buck- 
basket, of great merit, and is now engaged on a little cabinet picture for 
the next exhibition of the British gallery, which will be quite a gem. I 

1. en rather prolix about these two intimates of mine, but I thought 

count of them would be interesting to you, as being young men of 
whom our nation will hereafter have reason to be proud.* 

• From the Evening Post of January 12, 1820, where it was copied for insertion hy 
Boffman. The letter from which it is extracted bore date November 26, 1819, and 



About two months after he came up to London, Octo- 
ber 13th, he writes to Ebenezer : — 

I have forwarded to your care a parcel containing plates for the new 
edition of the "History of New York," which I will thank you to for- 
ward safely and without delay to Mr. Thomas, as I wish the work to be 
printed as soon as possible. There are but two plates, one for each vol- 
ume ; but they are charming little things by Allston and Leslie, and are 
engraved in the best style. The engraving and printing of them has cost 
me about one hundred pounds sterling. 

He had no purpose, as will be seen from this extract, 
of publishing the " History of New York " in England ; 
nor had he any views of that kind in preparing the 
" Sketch Book," upon which he was now engaged. The 
postscript to the letter would seem to be in reply to 
some inquiry of his brother, and has a melancholy signi- 

As to the sealed packet, which I left with you, it may be destroyed. I 
have nothing now to leave my brothers but a blessing, and that they have 
whenever I think of them. 

It was at this period that he received a letter from his 
brother William, informing him that his old friend, De- 
catur, was keeping a place open for him in the Navy 
Board ; that it was then in waiting for his answer, and 
would make him as independent and comfortable as he 
could wish. 

Commodore Decatur informs me (says the letter of October 24th) that 
he had made such arrangements, and such steps would further be made 


I v the Navv Board, as that you will be able to obtain the office of first 
. in the Navy Department, which is similar to that of under- secretary 
i England. The salary is equal to $2,400 per annum, which, us the 
iys, is sufficient to enable you to live in Washington like a 
i h try <>l the Navy has resigned, and as harmony in that 

Mm ni is wished, the President desires that the new one may meet 
with their approbation. They have been looking round for a suitable 
n, and tiny are resolved to make it a sine quanonvfitb. him, whoever 
In' may hr, that the present chief clerK, who has rendered himself peculi- 
arly obnoxious to all the line spirits of the Navy, shall be dismissed ; and 
termined to secure the berth for you, until your answer can 
be obtained. It is a berth highly respectable — very comfortable in its in- 
come, light in its duties, and will afford you a very ample leisure to pur- 
sue the bent of your literary inclination. It may also be a mere stepping- 
stone to higher station, or may be considered at any rate permanent. 

To the great chagrin of his brothers, William and 
Ebenozer, and contrary to their expectations, Washington 
declined this offer. 

Flattering as the prospect undoubtedly is, which your letters hold out 
fin' writes to Ebenezer), 1 have concluded to decline it for various reasons, 
- ni' of which I have stated to William. [This letter never came to hand, 
or has been lost.] The principal one is, that I do not wish to undertake 
any situation that must involve me in such a routine of duties as to pre- 
vent my attending to literary pursuits. 

It was not without many misgivings that he brought 
iself to decline a certainty on such vague grounds; 
and I have heard him say, that he was so disturbed by 
tli«> responsibility he had taken in refusing such a situa- 
tion, and trusting to the uncertain chances of literarv 


success, that for two months he could scarcely write a 


His declining was a sad disappointment to his brother 
William, especially as Peter had also made up his mind 
to remain abroad, and, as he expressed it, " battle the 
watch for himself." " Home," writes this brother to Eben- 
ezer, " has lost its charms to both the Doctor and Wash- 
ington. It is as well to accommodate the heart to its loss, 
and to consider them, as to all but epistolary correspond- 
ence, dead to us." So far as William was concerned, 
this sentence was indeed prophetic. His health was al- 
ready failing ; but he lived long enough to witness, with 
the deepest emotions of pride and delight, the brilliant 
success of the "Sketch Book." 



IN the beginning of this year Washington was 
joined by Peter, who had been detained at 
Liverpool and Birmingham, and who left soon 
after for Bordeaux on confidential business for a house 
of high standing in London, while William was pressing 
him at home for an appointment of importance and hand- 
some emolument under the treaty with Spain for settling 
claims. Meanwhile, Washington was preparing to launch 
the first number of the " Sketch Book." 
The letter in which he transmits the manuscript to his 



brother Ebenezer, and the contents of which he requests 
him to keep to himself as " babblings only fit for a broth- 
er's eye," is characteristic and full of interest. It bears 
date London, March 3, 1819. 

I have sent (he writes) by Capt. Merry of the Rosalie the first number 
of a work which I hope to be able to continue from time to time. I send 
it more for the purpose of showing you what I am about, as I find my 
declining the situation at Washington has given you chagrin. The fact 
is, that situation would have given me barely a genteel subsistence. It 
would have led to no higher situations, for I am quite unfitted for politi- 
cal life. My talents are merely literary, and all my habits of thinking, 
reading, etc., have been in a different direction from that required for 
the active politician. It is a mistake also to suppose I would fill an 
office there, and devote myself at the same time to Literature. I require 
much leisure and a mind entirely abstracted from other cares and occu- 
pations, if I would write much or write well. I should therefore at 
Washington be completely out of my element, and instead of adding to 
my reputation, stand a chance of impairing that which I already possess. 
If I ever get any solid credit with the public, it must be in the quiet and 
assiduous operations of my pen, under the mere guidance of fancy or 

I have been for some time past nursing my mind up for literary opera- 
tions, and collecting materials for the purpose. I shall be able, I trust, now 
to produce articles from time to time that will be sufficient for my present 
support, and form a stock of copyright property, that may be a little cap- 
ital for me hereafter. To carry this into better effect it is important for 
me to remain a little longer in Europe, where there is so much food for 
observation, and objects of taste on which to meditate and improve. I 
feel myself completely committed in literary reputation by what 1 have 
already written ; and 1 feel by no means satisfied to rest my reputation 
on my preceding writings. I have suffered several precious years of 


h and lively imagination to pass by unimproved, and it behooves me 
the most of what is left. If I indeed have the means within me 
lishing a legitimate literary reputation, this is the very period of 
lifo uao3l auspicious for it, and I am resolved to devote a few years exciu- 
attempt. Should I succeed, besides the literary property I 
amass in copyright, I trust it will not be difficult to obtain some 
official situation of a moderate, unpretending kind, in which I may make 
my bread. But as to reputation I can only look for it through the exer- 
tions of my pen 

In fact, I consider myself at present as making a literary experiment, 
in the course of which I only care to be kept in bread and cheese. Should 
it not succeed — should my writings not acquire critical applause, I am 
content to throw up the pen and take to any commonplace employment. 
But if they should succeed, it would repay me for a world of care and 
privation to be placed among the established authors of my country, and 
to win the affections of my countrymen. 

. . . . I have but one thing to add. I have now given you the 
leading motive of my actions — it may be a weak one, but it has full pos- 
session of me, and therefore the attainment of it is necessary to my com- 
fort. I now wish to be left for a little while entirely to the bent of my own 
inclination, and not agitated by new plans for subsistence, or by entrea- 
ties to come home. My spirits are very unequal, and my mind depends 
upon them ; and I am easily thrown into such a state of perplexity and 
such depression as to incapacitate me for any mental exertion. Do not, I 
beseech you, impute my lingering in Europe to any indifference to my 
own country or my friends. My greatest desire is to make myself worthy 
t.f the good-will of my country, and my greatest anticipation of happi- 
■ -is the return to my friends. I am living here in^a retired and soli- 
tary way, and partaking in little of the gayety of life, but I am deter- 
mined not to return home until I have sent some writings before me that 
. if they have merit, make me return to the smiles, rather than 
skulk back to the pity of my friends. 

In this letter lie had requested his brother Ebenezer 


to send the manuscript to for publication, but 

getting a communication from Brevoort just after he 
had concluded it, informing him of this bookseller's 
delay in paying a draft for books purchased for him, and 
of which he (Brevoort) had advanced the amount, he 
now determines to place the manuscript in charge of 
Brevoort, and draw upon him when in want of money, 
against the probable profits of his new writings. 

I give his letter to Brevoort, which introduces his 
request to his friend to assume the management of his 
literary interests, and brings them together in a new and 
interesting relation. 

London, March 3, 1819. 
My dear Brevooet : — 

I have this moment received your letter of February 2d, which came 
most opportunely, as it showed the impossibility of my relying further on 

in literary matters, and I was on the point of commencing further 

operations with him. He is a worthy, honest fellow, but apt to entangle 
himself. Were I a rich man I would give him my writings for nothing ; 
as I am a very poor one I must take care of myself. 

I have just sent to my brother Ebenezer MS. for the first number of a 
work which, if successful, I hope to continue occasionally. I had wished 

him to send it to for publication, but I now must have it published 

by some one else. Will you, as you are a literary man and a man of lei- 
sure, take it under your care ? I wish the copyright secured for me, and 
the work printed and then sold to one or more booksellers, who will take 
the whole impression at a fair discount, and give cash or good notes for 
it. This makes short work of it, and is more profitable to the author 
than selling the copyright. I should like Thomas to have the first offer, 
as he has been and is a true friend to me, and I wish him to have any 
advantage that may arise from the publication of it. 
vol. i.— 20 


I f t ho work Lb printed in New York, will you correct the proof-sheets, 
fear the MS. will be obscure, and you are well acquainted with my 
hand* riting ? 

I feel great diffidence about this reappearance in literature. I am con- 
is <>f my imperfections, and my mind has been for a long time past 
I upon and agitated by various cares and anxieties that I fear it 
I [osl much of its cheerfulness and some of its activity. 

I have attempted no lofty theme, nor sought to look wise and learned, 
which appears to be very much the fashion among our American writers, 
nt present I have preferred addressing myself to the feeling and 
fancy of the reader more than to his judgment. My writings, therefore, 
appear light and trifling in our country of philosophers and politi- 
cians ; but if they possess merit in the class of literature to which they 
,_r. it is all to which I aspire in the work. I seek only to blow a flute 
impaniment in the national concert, and leave others to play the fiddle 
and French horn. 

I shall endeavor to follow this first number by a second, as soon as 
blc ; but some time may intervene, for my writing moods are very 


God bless you, my dear Brevoort, 

Your friend, 

W. I. 

In a postscript to this letter, lie adds : — 

Do not press poor about the draft, if still unpaid — let him have 

time. I fear I shall be sadly disappointed in the receipt of funds from the 
new edition of the " History of New York." I had depended upon it for 
current expenses, but must now look forward .to the future exertions of 
my pen. 

The first number of the "Sketch Book of Geoffrey 
Crayon* Gent.," the title chosen for the series, was 
printed, as were the others, in New York, by C. S. Van 


Winkle, and consisted of the Prospectus, the author's 
account of himself, "The Voyage," " Eoscoe," "The 
Wife," and " Eip Van Winkle ; " making ninety-three 
pages of octavo of large type and copious margin. 

The first edition consisted of 2,000 copies. The num- 
ber was got up in beautiful style for that day, and the 
price was made to conform to it, being 75 cents. In the 
Prospectus, not to be found in the late editions of the 
work, he thus introduces himself anew to the public : — 

The following writings are published on experiment ; should they 
please they may be followed by others. The writer will have to contend 
with some disadvantages. He is unsettled in his abode, subject to inter- 
ruptions, and has his share of cares and vicissitudes. He cannot, there- 
fore, promise a regular plan, nor regular periods of publication. Should 
he be encouraged to proceed, much time may elapse between the appear- 
ance of his numbers ; and their size will depend on the materials he may 
have on hand. His writings will partake of the fluctuations of his own 
thoughts and feelings — sometimes treating of scenes before him, some- 
times of others purely imaginary, and sometimes wandering back with his 
recollections to his native country. He will not be able to give them that 
tranquU attention necessary to finished composition ; and as they must be 
transmitted across the Atlantic for publication, he will have to trust to 
others to correct the frequent errors of the press. Should his writings, 
however, with all their imperfections, be well received, he cannot conceal 
that it would be a source of the purest gratification ; for though he does 
not aspire to those high honors which are the rewards of loftier intellects, 
yet it is the dearest wish of his heart to have a secure and cherished, 
though humble corner in the good opinions and kind feelings of his coun- 

This number was published simultaneously in New 



Ymk, Boston, Philadelphia, and Baltimore; it was de- 
posited for copyright on the 15th of May, 1819, and its 
appearance took place shortly after. It was soon evident, 
from tin 1 sensation it produced, how warmly the public 
were disposed to welcome an old acquaintance. 

When the first number of this beautiful work was announced (says a 
contemporaneous notice), it was sufficient to induce an immediate and 
importunate demand, that the name of Mr. Irving was attached to it in 
the popular mind. With his name so much of the honor of our national 
literature is associated, that our pride as well as our better feelings is 
interested in accumulating the gifts of his genius. We had begun to 
reproach him with something like parsimony ; to tell him that he was in 
debt to us ; that the wealth and magnitude of his endowments were the 
patrimony of his country — a part of our inheritance. 

Of the different papers of this number, "Rip Van 
"Winkle" was the favorite; and the popularity which it 
seized at the outset it has ever retained. " His stories of 
' Rip Van Winkle,' and ' Sleepy Hollow ' " (says Cham- 
bers' " Cyclopaedia of English Literature," more than 
twenty years after the appearance of the " Sketch Book" 
in Great Britain), " are perhaps the finest pieces of orig- 
inal fictitious writing that this century has produced next 
to the works of Scott." 

It was just as he had finished the story of " Rip Yan 
Winkle," as he has before told us, that he received a copy 
of the discourse of Verplanck before the New York His- 
fcorical Society, in which he administers his reproof of 
the Knickerbocker travestie. As this story purported to 


be a posthumous production of Diedrich, he took occa- 
sion in the introduction to allude to the misdeeds of the 
departed sage. 

The old gentleman (he remarks) was apt to ride his hobby his own way ; 
and though it did now and then kick up the dust a little in the eyes of 
his neighbors, and grieve the spirit of some friends for whom he felt the 
truest deference and affection, yet his errors and follies are remembered 
"more in sorrow than in anger," and it begins to be suspected that he 
never intended to injure or offend. 

The " Analectic Magazine " for July of this year, had 
a notice of the first number of the " Sketch Book," from 
the classic pen of Verplanck, which, under the circum- 
stances, has a peculiar interest. I quote the kindly 
opening : — 

"We believe that the public law of literature has entirely exempted 
periodical publications from the jurisdiction of the ordinary critical tri- 
bunals : and we therefore notice the first number of this work without 
any intention of formal criticism, but simply for the purpose of announc- 
ing its appearance, and of congratulating the American public that one 
of then- choicest favorites has, after a long interval, again resumed the 
pen. It will be needless to inform any who have read the book, that it is 
from the pen of Mr. Irving. His rich, and sometimes extravagant hu- 
mor, his gay and graceful fancy, his peculiar choice and felicity of origi- 
nal expression, as well as the pure and fine moral feeling which imper- 
ceptibly pervades every thought and image, without being anywhere 
ostentatious or dogmatic, betray the author in every page ; even without 
the aid of those minor peculiarities of style, taste, and local allusions, 
which at once identify the travelled Geoffrey Crayon with the venerable 


On the 1st of April, 1819, tlio author writes to Bre- 
v<x »ri : — 

1 oiid number of the "Sketch Book." It is not so large as 
the first, luii I have ooi been able to get more matter ready for publica- 
tion ; and, in leed, I am not particular about the work being regular in 
any way. The price of this number, of course, must be less than the 

I hope you have been able to make arrangements with Thomas for the 
publication of my writings. I should greatly prefer its being published 
by him. 

The number here transmitted across the Atlantic con- 
sisted of four articles: " English Writers on America;" 
" Rural Life in England;" "The Broken Heart;" and 
the " Art of Book-making." The size was not so large as 
th" first, but the same price was put upon it, though he 
had intimated in his letters it must be less. 

A notice of this number at that day remarks : " When 
we read the description of English scenery, we are apt 
to think the descriptive is Mr. Irving's forte, but the 
' Broken Heart ' convinces us that his prevailing jDower 
is in natural and sweet pathos." 

This story was undoubtedly the general favorite. The 
particulars had been given to Mr. Irving by a young 
Liverpool friend, Mr. Andrew Hamilton, long since dead, 
who had himself seen the heroine, the daughter of Cur- 
ran, the celebrated Irish barrister, "at a masquerade" — ■ 
the scene in which she is introduced by the author. 

But though this story won the palm of popularity, 


there were not wanting many with whom the first was 
most commended, while the essay on " Rural Life in 
England " was considered by others as exhibiting most 
of the peculiar talents of the author. In this light it 
seems to have struck one of the most eminent names in 
American literature, Richard H. Dana, who, in his notice 
of the first two numbers of the " Sketch Book " in the 
"North American Review," after some rather critical 
animadversions on the " Broken Heart," thus speaks of 
this essay : — 

We come from reading "Rural Life in England" as much restored 
and as cheerful as if we had been passing an hour or two in the very 
fields and woods themselves. Mr. Irving's scenery is so true, so full of 
little beautiful particulars, so varied yet so connected in character, that 
the distant is brought nigh to us, and the whole is seen and felt like a 
delightful reality. It is all gentleness and sunshine ; the bright influ- 
ences of nature fall on us, and our disturbed and lowering spirits are 
made clear and tranquil — turned all to beauty like clouds shone on by 
the moon. 

This beautiful tribute exhibits the mellow charm of 
that essay upon an American mind. I follow it with an 
extract from a letter of the distinguished author of " Ca- 
leb Williams," in which we have his verdict on a copy of 
the second number, which had been transmitted to Lon- 
don from New York, and in which he singles out the 
essay on " Rural Life in England " for special commen- 
dation. This letter from such a source and so long in 
advance of the London publication of the " Sketch Book," 


has a marked literary interest. I found it among Mr. 
lr\ tug's papers, to whom it had been given by his friend 
( >gilvie, wlio had two years before predicted his success- 
ful return to the literary arena. 

[To James Ogilvie.] 

Skinner Street, September 15, 1810. 
Dkar Sir : — 

You desire me to write to you my sentiments on reading the "Sketch 
Book," No. II., and I most willingly comply with your request. 

Everywhere I find in it the marks of a mind of the utmost elegance and 
refinement, a thing as you know that I was not exactly prepared to look 
fur in an American Each of the essays is entitled to its ap- 
propriate praise, and the whole is such as I scarcely know an Englishman 
that could have written. The author powerfully conciliates to himself 
our kindness and affection. But the essay on "Rural Life in England" 
is incomparably the best. It is, I believe, all true ; and one wonders, 
while reading, that nobody ever said this before. There is wonderful 

sweetness in it 

Very truly yours, 

W. Godwin. 

I have anticipated a little in giving this letter. On the 
13th of May, four months before its date, Mr. Irving 
writes to Brevoort : — 

By the ship which brings this, I forward a third number of the " Sketch 
Book : " and if you have interested yourself in the fate of the preceding, 
I will thank you to extend your kindness to this also. I am extremely 
anxious to hear from you what you think of the first number, and am 
looking anxiously for the arrival of the next ship from New York. Mj 
fate hang.-, on it, for I am now at the end of my fortune. 


It was not, however, until July that his suspense was 
relieved, and he received the letter which gave Bre- 
voort's opinion. It was still later before he heard of the 
encouraging reception of his work and the run it was 
having. It would seem from an intimation in a letter of 
Ogilvie, that the author was painfully depressed during 
this interval. " I am impatient," writes that gentleman, 
" for the arrival of the first number of your ' Sketch 
Book,' because I feel assured that nothing else is want- 
ing to restore the equipoise of your mind, the steadiness 
of your intellectual exertions, and to prevent those occa- 
sional fits of depression which I can never witness or 
even think of, without feelings of sincere and even pain- 
ful sympathy." 

The following letters to Brevoort also give glimpses of 
this state of feeling : — 

Loroo*. July 10, 1819. 
My dear Brevoort : — 

I received a few days since your letter of the 9th June, and a day or 
two afterwards yours of 2d and 8th May, which had been detained in 
Liverpool. This last gave me your opinion of ray first number. I had 
felt extremely anxious to ascertain it, and your apparent silence had dis- 
couraged me. 

I am not sorry for the delay that has taken place in the publication, as 
it will give me more time to prepare my next number. Various circum- 
stances have concurred to render me very nervous and subject to fits of 
depression, that incapacitate me for literary exertion. All that I do at 
present is in transient gleams of sunshine which are soon overclouded, 
and I have to struggle against continual damps and chills. I hold on 


my purpose, however, in hopes of more genial -weather here- 
after, when I will be able to exert myself more effectively. 

It is a long time >incc 1 have heard from my brother William, and lam 
apt to attribute his silence to dissatisfaction at my not accepting the situ- 
•i at Washington ; a circumstance which I apprehend has disappointed 
f my friends. In these matters, however, just weight should be 
given to a man's tastes and inclinations. The value of a situation is only 
as it contributes to a man's happiness, and I should have been perfectly 
out of my i Lement and uncomfortable in Washington. The place could 
merely haw supported me, and instead of rising, as my friends appeared 
■.I should have sunk even in my own opinion. My mode of 
life lias unfortunately been such as to render me unfit for almost any use- 
ful purpose. I have not the kind of knowledge or the habits that are 
ssary for business or regular official duty. My acquirements, tastes, 
and habits are just such as to adapt me for the kind of literary exertions 
I contemplate. It is only in this way I have any chance of acquiring real 
reputation, and I am desirous of giving it a fair trial. 

I feel perfectly satisfied with your arrangements respecting the work, 
and more than ever indebted to you for these offices of friendship. I 
have delayed drawing on you until I should hear further about the work, 

but shall have to do so soon 

Give my sincere regards to Mrs. Brevoort, and speak a good word for 
me now and then to your little boy, whom I hope some day or other to 
f ir a playmate. 
Remember me to the rest of your domestic circle, and believe me 

as ever, 

Affectionately yours, 

W. I. 

[To Henry Brevoort, Esq.] 

London, July 28, 1819. 
My dear Brevoort: — 

As usual, I have but a few moments left to scribble a line before this 
opportunity departs by which I write. I have seen a copy of the first 


number of the " Sketch Book," which was sent out to a gentleman of my 
acquaintance. I cannot but express how much more than ever I feel my- 
self indebted to you for the manner in which you have attended to my 
concerns. The work is got up in a beautiful style. I should scarcely 
have ventured to have made so elegant an entree had it been left to my- 
self, for I had lost confidence in my writings. I have not discovered an 
error in the printing, and indeed have felt delighted at my genteel ap- 
pearance in print. I would observe that the work appears to be a little 
too highly pointed. I don't know whether my manuscript was so, or 
whether it is the scrupulous precision of the printer. High pointing is 
apt to injure the fluency of the style if the reader attends to all the 

I am quite pleased that the work has experienced delay, as it gives me 
time to get up materials to keep the series going. I have been rather 
aflat for a considerable time past, and able to do nothing with my pen. I 
was fearful of a great hiatus in the early part of my work, which would 
have been a disadvantage. My spirits have revived recently, and I trust, 
if I receive favorable accounts of the work's taking in America, that I 
shall be able to go on with more animation. 

I bad intended to despatch a number by this ship. It is all written out 
and stitched up, but as I find you will not stand in immediate need of it, 
1 will keep it by me for a few days, as there is some trivial finishing neces- 
sary. You may calculate upon receiving it, however, by one of the first 
ships that sails after this. 

I do not wish any given time to elapse between the numbers, but that 
they should appear irregularly; indeed, the precariousness and inequality 
of my own fits of composition will prevent that 

I look anxiously for your letter by the packet, which must come to 
hand in a few days; and trust at the same time to hear something of 
the reception of my work; until then I shall continue a little ner- 

Most affectionately yours, 

W. L 


The following is Brevoort's reply to the two foregoing 
Letters: — 

Bloomingdale, September 9, 1819. 
My w.\k Irving:— 

Just as I was preparing to answer your letter of the 10th July, I had 
the pleasure to receive by the Amity your letter of the 28th July. 

I hope we shall soon receive the 4th number, which you state was 
Dearly completed. The 3d number will be published on Monday, the 
loth. We were retarded a few days by not getting the paper from Mr. 
Thomas. The orders for Boston, Philadelphia, and Baltimore were for- 
warded this day, in order that the publication may be contemporaneous 
— a point very much insisted on by the craft. The edition of the first 
number has all been sold ; of the 2d number only 150 copies remain un- 
sold. The demand rises in every quarter. 

Your corrections shall be carefully inserted, and the punctuation some- 
what diminished. It was not owing to your MS., but to the scrupulous- 
ness of Van Winkle. The 2d edition of No. 1 will be sent to press in a 
few days. The 2d edition of No. 2 will also follow that of No. 1, as soon 

as possible It is a point universally agreed upon that your 

work is an honor to American literature, as well as an example to those 
who aspire to a correct and elegant style of composition. 

By the James Monroe I have forwarded to Richards five copies of 
No. 3 

I think you are mistaken in supposing your brother "William dissatis- 
fied respecting the Washington affair. I had a long talk with him a day 
or two since, in the course of which he adverted to that business, and rather to have yielded to the justness of your objections. He ex- 
pressed great remorse at his long silence to you, and resolved to take pea 
in hand and write you a long epistle, by way of atonement. He retains 
his old habit of burdening himself with a world of unnecessary cares and 
vexations. In walking the street he seems literally bent downward with 
at least a dozen gratuitous years ; yet his heart is as mellow and his sen' 
ilities just as acute as ever. 


The third number, which was published on the 13th of 
September, consisted of four articles : " A Royal Poet ; " 
" The Country Church ; " " The Widow and her Son," 
and " The Boar's Head Tavern, Eastcheap — a Shake- 
spearian Research." The fourth number, which Bre- 
voort was expecting at the date of his letter, was for- 
warded on the 2d August, as will be seen by the follow- 
ing epistle : — 

[To Henry Brevoort, Esq.] 

London, August 2, 1819. 

My dear Bkevoort : — 

I forward " Sketch Book," No. 4, to my brother E. Irving 

I send the present number with reluctance, for it has grown exceeding 
stale with me; part of it laid by me during a time that I was out of 
spirits and could not complete it. 

So much time has elapsed, however, that I dare not delay any longer. 
I shall endeavor to get up another number immediately, having part of 
the materials prepared. Should you, at any time think any article so in- 
different as to be likely to affect the reputation of the work, you may use 
your discretion in omitting it, and delaying the number until the arrival 
of my next number, out of which you can take an article to supply the 

I write in great haste, and am as ever, 

Affectionately yours, 


The number here transmitted consisted of three ar- 
ticles : "The Mutability of Literature;" "The Spectre 
Bridegroom," and "John Bull ; " but this last was after- 


wards reserved for the sixth, and the essay on " Bural 
Funerals" was substituted for it. 

[ To Henry Brevoort, Esq. ] 

London, Angust 12, 1819. 
My dbab Rkeyoort : — 

I have received your letter of July 9th, which has given me infinite 

gratification ; but I have not time to reply to it as I could wish. I wrote 

i lately, i ixpressing how much I was delighted by the manner in 

which you got up my work; the favorable reception it has met with is 

extremely encouraging, and repays me for much doubt and anxiety. 

I am glad to hear from you and my brother Ebenezer, that you think 
my se< < tid number better than the first. The manner in which you have 
spoken of several of the articles is also very serviceable; it lets me know 
where I make a right hit, and will serve to govern future exertions. 

I regret that you did not send me at least half a dozen copies of the 
work ; I am sadly tantalized, having but barely the single copy. I have 
not made any determination about republishing in this country, and shall 
ask advice, if I can meet with any one here who can give it me : but my 
literary acquaintance is very limited at present. I wish you would in- 
quire, and let me know how the " Ilistory of New York " sells, as Thomas 
is rather negligent in giving me information about it. Let him have his 
own time in settling for it. 

You observe that the public complain of the price of my work ; this is 
the disadvantage of coming in competition with republished English 
works, for which the booksellers have not to pay anything to the authors. 
If the American public wish to have a literature of their own, they must 
consent to pay for the support of authors. A work of the same size, and 
got tip in the same way as my first number, would sell for more in Eng- 
land, and the cost of printing, etc., would be less 

I drew on you lately, in favor of Mr. Samuel Williams, at thirty days' 


sight, for $1,000. General Boyd bought the draft, and I have the 

I feel very much obliged by Verplanck's notice of my work in the 
" Analectic;" and very much encouraged to find it meets with his appro- 
bation. I know no one's taste to whom I would more thoroughly defer. 

You suppose me to be on the continent, but I shall not go for soma 
time yet; and you may presume on letters, etc., finding me in Eng- 

Four days after the date of this letter, in which he had 
forwarded a correction for " John Bull," he sends his 
essay on " Rural Funerals," to be substituted for that 
article ; a rapid effusion, to which he had been stimulated 
by Brevoort and Ebenezer's letters, communicating the 
favorable reception of his first number, their opinion of 
the superiority of the second, and the popularity of the 
pathetic element in his compositions. 

[To Brevoort.] 

London, August 16, 1819. 
Dear Brevoort : — 

In great haste I inclose you an essay, which I have just scribbled, and 
which I wish inserted in the fourth number in place of one of the articles, 
as I am afraid the number has too great a predominance of the humorous. 
You may insert it in place of "John Bull," and keep that article for the 
fifth number. I have not had time to give this article a proper 
finishing, and wish you to look sharp that there are not blunders and 
tautologies in it. It has been scribbled off hastily, and part of it actually 
in a church-yard in a recent ramble into the country. 

The unnamed essay here sent, was "Eural Funerals.' 1 


He had forwarded a correction for "John Bull" on the 
12th of August, and on the 16th he is putting that aside 
for this, which must have been prepared in the interim. 
Part of it, the letter informs us, was written in a church- 
yard, on a ramble into the country; and part, I have 
heard from his own lips, was written at Miller's, where 
he stopped in at early dawn, feverish and excited, after 
having been all night at a dance, and borrowed pen and 
paper to jot down his "thick-coming fancies," some of 
which no doubt were brought from memories of the past. 

In your sketch of "Rural Funerals" (writes Mrs. Hoffman to him), I 
recognized a scene which you have related in a very touching manner. 
It surprises me to see that your memory is as tenacious as mine— some 
things are so deeply fixed there, which passed without striking others 
nearly interested. I should think your mind would be relieved by writ- 
ing off these melancholy feelings. 

About three weeks after he had despatched this essay, 
he receives two parcels from America, containing copies 
of the first and second numbers of the " Sketch Book," 
and a letter from Brevoort, inclosing commendatory no- 
tices of the press. I give his touching and characteristic 
reply :— 

London, September 9, 1819. 

My bear Buevoort : — 

I have received this morning a parcel from Liverpool, containing two 
parcels from you — one of four of the first number, and the other, five of the 
second number of the " Sketch Book," with your letter per courier. The 
second number is got up still more beautifully than the first. I cannot 
express to ycu how much I am delighted with the very tasteful manner 


in which it is executed. You may tell Mr. Van Winkle that it docs him 
great credit, and has been much admired here as a specimen of American 
typography; and among the admirers is Murray, the "prince of book- 
sellers," so famous for his elegant publications. Indeed, the manner in 
which you have managed the whole matter gives me infinite gratiiication. 
You have put my writings into circulation, and arranged the pecuniary 
concerns in such a way as to save future trouble and petty chafferings 
about accounts, and to give the whole an independent and gentlemanlike 
air. I would rather sacrifice fifty per cent, than have to keep accounts, 
and dun booksellers for payment. 

The manner in which the work has been received, and the eulo°nums 
that have been passed upon it in the American papers and periodical 
works, have completely overwhelmed me. They go far, far beyond my 
most sanguine expectations ; and, indeed, are expressed with such pecu- 
liar warmth and kindness, as to affect me in the tenderest manner. The 
receipt of your letter, and the reading of some of those criticisms this 
morning, have rendered me nervous for the whole day. I feel almost ap- 
palled by such success, and fearful that it cannot be real, or that it is not 
fully merited, or that I shall not act up to the expectations that may be 
formed. We are whimsically constituted beings. I had got out of con- 
ceit of all that I had written, and considered it very questionable stuff ; 
and now that it is so extravagantly be-praised, I begin to feel afraid that 
I shall not do as well again. However, we shall see as we get on. As 
yet I am extremely irregular and precarious in my fits of composition. 
The least thing puts me out of the vein, and even applause flurries 
me, and prevents my writing ; though, of course, it will ultimately be a 

I hope you will not attribute all this sensibility to the kind reception 
I have met with to an author's vanity. I am sure it proceeds from very 
different sources. Vanity could not bring the tears into my eyes, as they 
have been brought by the kindness of my countrymen. I have felt cast 
down, blighted, and broken-spirited, and these sudden rays of sunshine 
agitate even more than they revive me. 
vol. i. — 21 


\ hope — I hope I may yet do something more worthy of the approba- 
t i • >i i lavished on me 

Give my best regards to your wife, and remember me heartily to the 
little circle of our peculiar intimacy. 

I am, my dear Brevoort, 

Yours affectionately, 

W. 1. 

It was probably under the influence of this encourag- 
ing news that he wrote, four days after, the following 
familiar and playful letter to Leslie, then on a visit to 
some Quaker friends in Wales. They had been living 
near together and meeting almost every day ; and this 
letter is pleasantly indicative of the perfect cordiality 
and freedom that existed between them. Newton cuts 
quite a figure in it. The others who are mentioned, be- 
longed to an American ciicle in London, in which Irving, 
Leslie, and Newton seem to have mingled in easy famil- 

London, September 13, 1810. 

You Leslie !— What is the reason you have not let us hear from you 
since you set out on your travels ? We have been in great anxiety lest 
you should have started from London on some other route of that six-inch 
square map of the world which you consulted, and through the mistake 
of a hair's breadth may have wandered, the Lord knows where. 

Eere have been sad evolutions and revolutions since you left us. New- 
ton had his three shirts and six collars packed up in half of a saddle- 
bag for several days, with the intention of accompanying Lyman, Ever- 
ett, and Charles Williams to Liverpool, and returning with the lifter 
through Wales, in which case they intended beating up your quarters, 
and endeavoring to surprise you with your mahl stick turned into a shep- 


herd's crook, sighing at the feet of Miss Maine. Newton did nothing, 
for two or three days, but scamper up and down between Finsbury Square 
and Sloane Street, like a cat in a panic, taking leave of everybody in the 
morning, and calling upon them again in the evening, when to his aston- 
ishment ho found Charles Williams had the private intention of embark- 
ing for America. Charles has actually sailed, and Newton, instead of 
his Welsh tour, accompanied me on a tour to Deptford and Eltham. He 
has now resumed his station at the head of Sloane Street. Jones has 
taken possession of the bottom, and between them both I expect they 
will tie the two ends of the street into a true lover's knot. For my part 
I have been almost good for nothing since your departure, and would 
not pass another summer in London if they would make me Lord 

I have received the second number of the " Sketch Book," and shall be 
quite satisfied if I deserve half the praise they give me in the American 
journals ; but they always overdo these matters in America. I am glad 
to find the second number pleases more than the first. The sale is very 
rapid, and, altogether, the success exceeds my most sanguine expectation. 
Now you suppose I am all on the alert, and full of spirit and excitement. 
No such thing. I am just as good for nothing as ever I was ; and, in- 
deed, have been flurried and put out of my way by these puffings. I feel 
something as I suppose you did when your picture met with success — 
anxious to do something better, and at a loss what to do. 

But enough of egotism. Let me know how you find yourself ; how 
you like Wales ; what you are doing ; and especially, when you intend 
to return. I hope you will not remain away much longer. Newton's 
manikin has at length arrived, and he is to have it home in a few days, 
when it is to be hoped he will give up rambling abroad, and stay at home, 
drink tea, and play the flute to the lady. William Macdougall means to 
give her a tea-party, and it is expected she will be introduced into com- 
pany with as much eclat as Peregrine Pickle's protegee. I have no^v 
fairly filled my sheet with nonsense, and craving a speedy reply. 

I am yours, 



It must have been about the date of this letter that 
Mr. Irving's sympathizing friend, Ogilvie, left with God- 
win, for his critical opinion one of the copies of No. II. 
of the " Sketch Book," which, as we have seen, the au- 
thor had received a few days before from New York. I 
have already given Godwin's letter, which may be taken 
as the first sound of that cheering voice which was soon 
to greet him from the English public. 

Ten days after Godwin had written his critical ap- 
probation of No. II., the "London Literary Gazette," 
a weekly periodical, commenced a republication of the 
sketches from No. I., which was continued through two 
successive issues. A copy of the third number also 
reached England, and it was said that a London book- 
seller was about to have these separate portions printed 
in a collective form. It had not been the intention of 
the author to publish them in England, conscious that 
much of their contents could be interesting only to 
American readers, and having a distrust of their being 
able to stand the severity of British criticism; but he 
now determined to revise and bring them forward him- 
self, that they might at least come correctly before the 
public. The rest shall be told in his own words, as given 
in his preface to the revised edition of the "Sketch 
Book " of 1848 :— 

I accordingly took the printed numbers which I had received from the 
United States, to Mr. John Murray, the eminent publisher, from whom I 
had already received friendly attentions, and left them with him for ex- 
amination, informing him that should he be inclined to bring them be- 


fore the public, I had materials enough on hand for a second volume. 
Several days having elapsed without any communication from Mr. Mur- 
ray, I addressed a note to him, in which I construed his silence into a 
tacit rejection of my work, and begged that the numbers I had left with 
him might be returned to me. The following was his reply : — 

My dear Sir : — 

I entreat you to believe that I feel truly obliged by your kind intentions 
towards me, and that I entertain the most unfeigned respect for your 
most tasteful talents. My house is completely filled with work-people at 
this time, and I have only an office to transact business in ; and yesterday 
I was wholly occupied, or I should have done myself the pleasure of see- 
ing you. 

If it would not suit me to engage in the publication of your present 
work, it is only because I do not see that scope in the nature of it which 
would enable me to make those satisfactory accounts between us, without 
which I really feel no satisfaction in engaging ; but I will do all that I 
can to promote their circulation, and shall be most ready to attend to any 
future plan of yours. With much regard, I remain, dear sir, 

Your faithful servant, 

John Murray. 

The letter here given is now before me ; it is without 
date by Murray, but is marked in the author's hand- 
writing, October 27, 1819. It bears also this later in- 
dorsement by him, made probably in 1848 at the time he 
transcribed it for the preface to his revised edition of 
the " Sketch Book," — " Letter from Murray declining the 
publication of the ' Sketch Book,' after I had sent him 
the first three or four numbers of the American edition in 
print, comprising the first volume." It is manifest from 


this indorsement that the author was a little at fault as 

fi> the precise contents submitted to Murray's inspection, 

1 1 if none but printed numbers of the American edition 

re handed to the great bibliopolist, the fourth number 

dd not have been included, for that was not published 

in America until November 10, a fortnight after his de- 

clension, and did not, in fact, reach England until the 

i -inning of January, more than two months later. It 

is not a point, however, upon which I lay any stress. 

Mr. Irving intimates in his preface, that after this he 
might have been deterred from any further prosecution 
of the matter, had the question of republication in Great 
Britain rested entirely with him : but he apprehended 
the appearance of a spurious edition. I find no trace in 
his letters of discouragement under the disheartening 
d cision, for only four days later he writes to his brother 
Ebenezor: "I intend republishing in this country, the 
work having been favorably received by such as have 
seen it here, and extracts having been made from it with 
encomiums in some of the periodical works." And now, 
recalling the cordial reception he had experienced from 
Scott at Abbotsford, the impression made upon him by 
his manners and conversation, and the favorable opinion 
he had expressed of his Knickerbocker, he turned to him 
in his perplexity, and sent him the printed numbers of 
the " Sketch Book," with a letter in which he observed 
that since he had the pleasure of partaking of his hospi- 
tality, a reverse had taken place in his affairs which made 


the exercise of his pen important to him. He begged 
him, therefore, to look over the literary articles he had 
forwarded to him, and if he thought they would bear 
European publication, to ascertain whither Mr. Con- 
stable would be inclined to be the publisher. 

"The parcel containing my work," says the preface, 
"went by coach to Scott's address in Edinburgh; the 
letter went by mail to his residence in the country. By 
the very first post I received a reply." 

This reply, of which the preface contains some ex- 
tracts, I transcribe in full : — 

November 17, 1819. 
My dear Sib : — 

I was down at Kelso when your letter reached Abbotsford. I am now 
on my way to town, and will converse with Constable and do all in my 
power to forward your views ; I assure you nothing will give me more 

I am now to mention a subject in which I take a most sincere interest. 
You have not only the talents necessary for making a figure in literature, 
but also the power of applying them readily and easily, and want nothing 
but a sphere of action in which to exercise them. Let me put the ques- 
tion to you without hesitation : Would you have any objection to super- 
intend an Anti-Jacobin periodical publication which will appear weekly 
in Edinburgh, supported by the most respectable talent, and amply fur- 
nished with all the necessary information ? The appointment of the 
editor (for which ample funds are provided) will be £500 a year certain, 
with the reasonable prospect of further advantages. I foresee this may 
be involving you in a warfare you care not to meddle with, cr that your 
view of politics may not suit the tone it is desired to adopt ; yet I risk 
tho question because I know no man so well qualified for this important 
task, and perhaps because it will necessarily bring you to Edinburgh. If 


my proposal does not suit, you need only keep the matter secret and 
there La no harm done ; " and for my love I pray you wrong me not." If, 
on the contrary, you think it could be made to suit you, let me know as 
soon as possible, addressing Castle St., Edinburgh. 

I have not yet got your parcel. I fancy I shall find it in Edinburgh 
1 wish I were as sure of seeing you there with the resolution of taking a 
lift of this same journal. One thing I may hint, that some of your coad- 
jutors being young though clever men, may need a bridle rather than a 
spur, and in this I have the greatest reliance on your prudence. I my- 
self have no more interest in the matter than I have in the "Quarterly 
Iu \ Lew," which I aided in setting afloat. 

Excuse this confidential scrawl, which was written in great haste when 
1 understood the appointment was still open, and believe me, 

Most truly yours, 

Walter Scott. 

This is dated Abbotsford, Monday. In a postscript 
dated Edinburgh, Tuesday, lie adds : — 

I am just come here and have glanced over the " Sketch Book ; " it is 
positively beautiful, and increases my desire to crimp you if it be possi- 
ble. Some difficulties there always are in managing such a matter, espe- 
cially at the outset. But we will obviate them as much as we possibly 

I find among the author's papers the "imperfect draft" 
of his reply, to which he alludes in the preface as having 
undergone some modifications in the copy sent ; and as I 
have given the whole of Scott's letter, I copy this too in 

I tv dear Sir : — 

I cannot express how much I am gratified by your letter. I had begun 
t i feel as if I had taken an unwarrantable liberty, but somehow or other 


there is a genial sunshine about you that warms every creeping thing into 
heart and confidence. Your literary proposal both surprises and flatters 
me, as it evinces a much higher opinion of my talents than I have myself. 
I am peculiarly unfitted for the post proposed. I have no strong political 
prejudices, for though born and brought up a republican, and convinced 
that it is the best form of government for my own country, yet I feel my 
poetical associations vividly aroused by the old institutions of this coun- 
try, and should feel as sorry to see them injured or subverted as I would 
to see Windsor Castle or Westminster Abbey demolished to make way for 
brick tenements. 

But I have a general dislike to politics. I have always shunned them 
in my own country, and have lately declined a lucrative post under my 
own government, and one that opened the door to promotion, merely 
because I was averse to political life, and to being subjected to regular 
application and local confinement. 

My whole course of life has been desultory, and I am unfitted for any 
periodically recurring task, or any stipulated labor of body or mind. I 
have no command of my talents such as they are, and have to watch the 
varyings of my mind as I would a weathercock. Practice and training 
may bring me more into rule ; but at present I am as useless for regular 
service as one of my own country Indians or a Don Cossack. 

I must, therefore, keep on pretty much as I have begun — writing when 
I can, not when I would. I shall occasionally shift my residence, and 
write whatever is suggested by objects before me, or whatever runs in my 
imagination ; and hope to write better and more copiously by and by. 

I am playing the egotist, but I know no better way of answering your 
proposal but by showing what a very good-for-nothing kind of being I 
am. Should Mr. Constable feel inclined to make a bargain for the wares 
I at present have on hand, he will encourage me to further enterprise ; 
and it will be something like bargaining with a gypsy, who may one 
time have but a wooden bowl to sell, and at another a silver tankard. 

The following is Scott's considerate reply, in which he 


enters into a detail of the various terms upon which 
ka were published, that his correspondent might take 
his choice of them : — 

Edinburgh, December 4, 1819. 
My deae Sir : — 

I am sorry but not surprised that you do not find yourself inclined to 

in the troublesome duty in which I would haYe been well con- 

tented to engage you. I have very little doubt that Constable would most 

willingly be your publisher, and I think I could show him how his in- 

: is most strongly concerned in it. But I do not exactly feel empow- 

. to state anything to him on the subject except very generally. There 
are, you know, various modes of settling with a publisher. Sometimes he 
gives a sum of money for the copyright. But more frequently he relieves 
the author of all expense, and divides what he calls the free profit on the 
editions as they arise. There is something fair in this, and advanta- 

is for both parties ; for the author receives a share of profit exactly 
in proportion to the popularity of his work, and the bookseller is re- 

sd of the risk which always attends a purchase of copyright, and has 
more rapid returns of his capital. In general, however, he contrives to 
take the lion's share of the booty ; for, first, he is always desirous to 
delay settlement till the edition sells off, and if disposed to be unfair 
(which I never found Constable) he can contrive that there be such a 

rre of the edition as shall put off the term of accounting, to him 

. •iart d'hcure de Rabelais au Gnecas Kalendas ; 2dly, the half profits 
are thus accounted for : Print, paper, and advertising are usually made 

mount to about one third of the whole price of the edition, and 
one third is deducted as allowance to the retail trade. The bookseller 

illy renders something about the remaining third as divisible profit 
betwixt the author and himself ; so that upon a guinea volume the author 
receives three and sixpence. In cases where a rapid sale is expected, book- 
sellers will give better terms ; for example, they will grant bills for the 
author's share of profit at perhaps nine or twelve months' date, and thus 


insure him against delay of settlements. They have also been made to 
lower or altogether abandon the charge of advertising, which in fact is 
a stump charge which booksellers make against the author, of which 
they never lay out one sixth part, because they advertise all their produc- 
tions in one advertisement, and charge the expense of doing so against 
every separate work though there may be twenty of them, from which 
you can easily see he must be a great gainer. Xow this is all I know of 
bookselling as practiced by the most respectable of the trade, and I am 
certain that under the system of half profits in one of its modifications 
Constable wUl be happy to publish for you. I am certain the ' ' Sketch 
Book " could be published here with great advantage ; it is a delightful 
work. Knickerbocker and "Salmagundi " are more exclusively American, 
and may not be quite so well suited for our meridian. But they are so 
excellent in their way, that if the public attention could be once turned 
on them I am confident that they would become popular ; but there is the 
previous objection to overcome. Xow you see, my dear sir, the ground ou 
which you stand. I therefore did no more than cpen trenches with Con- 
stable, but I am sure if you will take the trouble to write to him, you will 
find him disposed to treat your overture with every degree of attention. 
Or if you think it of consequence in the first place to see me, I shall be in 
London in the course of a month, and whatever my experience can com- 
mand is most heartdy at your service. But I can add little to what T 
have said above, excepting my earnest recommendation to Constable to 
enter into the negotiation. 

In my hurry I have not thanked you in Sophia's name for the kind 
attention which furnished her with the American volumes.* I am not 
quite sure I can add my own, since you have made her acquainted with 
much more of papa's folly than she would ever otherwise have learned, 
for I had taken special care they should never see any of these things 
during their earlier years. I think I told you that Walter is sweeping 
the firmament with a feather like a May-pole, and indenting the pave- 

* An American edition of his own poems. 


men! with ;v sword like a scythe ; in other words, he is become a whis- 
ks red hussar in the 18th dragoons. Trusting to see you soon, I am 
always, my dear sir, 

Most truly yours, 

Walter Scott. 

" Before the receipt of this most obliging letter," says 
Mr. Irving in his preface, " I had determined to look to 
no leading bookseller for a launch, but to throw my work 
before the public at my own risk, and let it sink or swim 
according to its merits." But though he had come to 
this resolution before the receipt of Scott's letter, it was 
not until the 9th of the succeeding month that his con- 
tract with Miller took a written form and the latter un- 
dertook to proceed with the publication. " I have just 
made arrangements to have a volume of the ' Sketch 
Book' published here," he writes to his brother Eben- 
ezer from London, January 13th. "I expect the first 
proof-sheet to-day, and the volume will be published in 
about a month. If the experiment succeeds I shall fol- 
low it up by another volume." 



RAVING anticipated a little in giving the letters 
of Scott in the preceding chapter, I now go 
back in my narrative to a period just succeed- 
ing the author's receipt of the great publisher's " civil 
note " of refusal, when Brevoort was writing to him : " I 
wish you would permit Murray to publish your work." 
At this time Brevoort was about to leave for Charleston, 
where he was to spend the winter, and had written to 
Mr. Irving : " After distributing the fourth number I 



11 settle accounts with the purchasers as well as with 
the printer, and advise you of the balance in your favor, 
which will be payable within ninety days. Your brother 
Ebenezer will then take charge of No. V. and the second 
edition. I shall give him every sort of information as to 
the manner of managing the work." 

Ebenezer, upon whom this novel guardianship now 
devolves, writes : "Brothers William and John T. will 
assist iiif in the correction of proofs." 

The day after Murray's non-acceptance, and about a 
fortnight prior to the publication of No. IV. in America, 
he transmits No. V. to his brother Ebenezer, consisting 
of " Christmas." " Whether No. V. will please or not," 
he writes, " I cannot say, but it has cost me more trouble 
and more odd research than any of the others." 

This number did not exactly hit the taste of his 
brother. He missed the pathetic element which had 
been so attractive a feature in the former numbers, and 
allowed himself, on a first perusal, to remark upon its 
length, and to lament the absence of the usual variety. 
In reply to these remarks, Washington writes : — 

The article you object to, about Christmas, is written for peculiar 
-—those who are fond of what is quaint in literature and customs. 
The scenes there depicted are formed upon humors and customs peculiar 
to the English, and illustrative of their greatest holiday. The old rhymes 
h are interspersed are but selections from many which I found among 
old works in the British Museum, little read even by Englishmen, and 
which will have a value with some literary men who relish these morsels 


of antiquated humor. When an article is studied out in this manner, it 
cannot have that free flowing spirit and humor that one written off-hand 
has ; but then it compensates to some peculiar minds by the points of 
character or manners which it illustrates. Had I not thought so, I cer- 
tainly would not have taken the trouble which the article cost me. If it 
possesses the kind of merit I mention, and pleases the peculiar, though 
perhaps few tastes to which I have alluded, my purpose in writing the 
article is satisfied, and it will go to keep up the variety which is essential 
to a work of the kind. 

On the 29tli of December, he transmits to New York 
No. VI. consisting of the " Pride of the Tillage," and the 
"Legend of Sleepy Hollow" — "John Bull," which formed 
one of the articles, being already there. 

I send you MS. for No. VI. (he writes to Ebenezer). There is a Knick- 
erbocker story which may please from its representation of American 
scenes. It is a random thing, suggested by recollections of scenes and 
stories about Tarrytown. The story is a mere whimsical band to connect 
descriptions of scenery, customs, manners, etc. 

The outline of this story had been sketched more than 
a year before at Birmingham, after a conversation with 
his brother-in-law, Van Wart, who had been dwelling 
upon some recollections of his early years at Tarrytown, 
and had touched upon a waggish fiction of one Brom 
Bones, a wild blade, who professed to fear nothing, and 
boasted of his having once met the devil on a return from 
a nocturnal frolic, and run a race with him for a bowl of 
milk punch. The imagination of the author suddenly 
kindled over the recital, and in a few hours he had scrib- 


bled off the framework of his renowned story, and was 
reading it to his sister and her husband. He then threw 
it by until he went up to London, where it was ex- 
panded into the present legend. 

In the interval between the transmission of the sixth 
and seventh numbers to New York, a volume of the 
" Sketch Book " was published in England. February 
24, 1820, Washington writes to Ebenezer : — 

The volume containing the first four numbers of the "Sketch Book" 
was published on Monday last by John Miller, Burlington Arcades. I 
shall not publish any more, and should not have done this, had there not 
been a likelihood of these works being republished here from incorrect 
American numbers. 

On the publication of this volume, Miller urged Mr. 
Irving to send copies to the different periodicals ; but he 
declined, being unwilling to do what might appear like a 
desire to propitiate their favor. 

It was put to press (as he says in his preface) without any of the usual 
arts by which a work is trumpeted into notice. All he permitted himself 
was an appeal, not to the indulgence, but the candor of the critics in his 
advertisement to the edition. The following desultory papers (he says) 
are part of a series written in this country, but published in America. 
The author is aware of the austerity with which the writings of his coun- 
trymen have hitherto been treated by British critics ; he is conscious, too, 
that much of the contents of his papers can be interesting only in the 
eyes of American readers. It was not his intention, therefore, to have 
them reprinted in this country. He has, however, observed several of 
them from time to time inserted in periodical works of merit, and has 


understood that it was probable they would be republished ia a collective 
form. He has been induced, therefore, to revise and bring them forward 
himself, that they may at least come correctly before the public. Should 
they be deemed of sufficient importance to attract the attention of critics, 
he solicits for them that courtesy and candor which a stranger has some 
right to claim, who presents himself at the threshold of a hospitable 
February, 1820. 

Before this lie had written to Scott, who had not come 
to London at the time proposed in his letter, informing 
him of the arrangement he had made with Miller, by the 
terms of which the publication was to consist of one 
thousand copies, and the author took upon himself the 
entire expense of paper, printing, and advertisements, and 
the risk of sale. The following is Scott's reply : — 

Edinburgh, March 1, 1820. 
My dear Sir : — 

I was some time since favored with your kind remembrance of the 9th, 
and observe with pleasure that you are going to come forth in Britain. 
It is certainly not the very best way to publish on one's own account, for 
the booksellers set their faces against the circulation of such works as do 
not pay an amazing toll to themselves. But they have lost the art of al- 
together damming up the road in such cases between the author and the 
public, which they were once able to do as effectually as Diabolus, in John 
Bunyan's "Holy War," closed up the windows of my Lord Understand- 
ing's mansion. I am sure of one thing, that you have only to be known 
to the British public to be admired by them ; and I would not say so un- 
less I really was of that opinion. If you ever see a witty but rather local 
publication called "Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine," you will find 
some notice of your works in the last number. The author is a friend of 
mine to whom I have introduced you in your literary capacity. His nama 
vol. I. — 22 



is Lockhart a young man of very considerable talent, and who will soon 

ntimately connected with my family. My faithful friend Knieker- 
;er is to be next examined and illustrated. Constable was extremely 

willing to enter into consideration of a treaty for your works, but I fore- 
.. ill be still more so when 

■■ ', .mi name ia np and may go 
From Toledo to Madrid." 

And thai will be soon the case. 

Scott came to London about the middle of March, for 
the purpose of receiving his baronetcy, at which time Mr. 
Irvine was on a visit to his brother-in-law, Van Wart, at 
Birmingham, not having seen the family for more than a 
year ;md a half, during which interval he had been lead- 
ing a solitary life in London. He had returned on the 
k J7t!i of March, and on the 9th of April, Leslie wrote to 
his sister : — 

Walter Scott (now Sir Walter) is in London ; and I am to have the 
honor, and I am sure it will be the very great pleasure, of breakfasting 
with him at his lodgings on Friday next. Irving, who I suspect of being 
a very great favorite of Scott's, is to introduce me. It is what I did not 
ire to ask of him ; but Irving knowing how much such an introduc- 
tion would gratify me, proposed it himself. I believe we are to meet 
; he poet, there. Scott is one of those men of genius who delights 
in the genius of others, and is not for having it all to himself. He has 
d the highest opinion of Irving's productions, and perhaps there 
is iv t another man in this country whose good opinion is so valuable. 
\ i will be hear that there is every prospect of Irving's writings 

speedily becoming as popular here as they are in America. An edition 
he first volume of the "Sketch Book" is very nearly sold off here al- 


ready. One of the stories, "The Wife," has been translated into French; 
and many of the articles have been extracted for the magazines and news- 
papers. Scott was very much delighted with the sixth number, partit u- 
larly with the story of " Brom Bones." 

This allusion to the sixth number of the " Sketch 
Book," which was not yet printed in England, would 
imply that an American number had been shown to 
Scott, or a duplicate in manuscript. But while Leslie 
was penning this account of the success of his friend, the 
volume he had put to press in England was destined to 
an untoward mischance. His bookseller failed, and the 
sale of the work, which was just getting into fair circula- 
tion, was interrupted, and his hopes of profit, if he had 
been sanguine of any, dashed to the ground. At this 
juncture Scott interposed his good offices. 

I called to him for help (writes Mr. Irving in the preface to the revised 
edition of the "Sketch Book ") as I was sticking in the mire ; and more 
propitious than Hercules, he put his own shoulder to tho wheel. Through 
his favorable representations, Murray was quickly induced to undertake 
the future publications of the work, which he had previously declined. A 
further edition of the first volume was struck off, and the second volume 
was put to press, and from that time Murray became my publisher ; 
conducting himself in all his dealings with that fair, open, and liberal 
spirit, which had obtained for him the well-merited appellation of the 
Prince of Booksellers. 

The following letter to Brevoort will now be in 
place : — 


London, May 13, 1320. 
31 Y dear Brevoort : — 

I send this letter by my friend Delafield, whom, I presume, you 
know ; if not, you ought to know him, for he is a right worthy fellow. 
Be has in charge a portrait of me, painted by Newton, a nephew of Mr. 
Si nil-;. It is considered an excellent likeness, and I am willing it should 
be thought so— though, between ourselves, I think myself a much better- 
looking fellow on canvas than in the looking-glass. I beg you to accept 
ii as a testimony of my affection ; and my deep sense of your truly broth- 
erly kindness towards me on all occasions 

The "Sketch Book" is doing very well here. It has been checked for 
a time by the failure of Miller ; but Murray has taken it in hand, and it 
will now have a fair chance. I shall put a complete edition to press next 
week, in two volumes ; and at the same time print a separate edition of 
the second volume, to match the editions of the first already published. 
1 have received very flattering compliments from several of the literati, 
and find my circle of acquaintance extending faster than I could wish. 
Murray's drawing-room is now a frequent resort of mine, where I have 
been introduced to several interesting characters, and have been most 
courteously received by Gifford. Old D'Israeli is a staunch friend of 
mine also ; and I have met with some very interesting people at his 
house. This evening I go to the Countess of Besborough's, where there 
is to be quite a collection of characters, among whom I shall see Lord 
\\ "« llington, whom I have never yet had the good luck to meet 

I shall not send any more manuscript to America, until I put it to 
here, as the second volume might be delayed, and the number come 
out here from America. The manner in which the work nas been re- 
ceived here, instead of giving me spirit to write, has rather daunted me 
for t lie time. I feel uneasy about the second volume, and cannot write 
any fresh matter for it 

The following letter to James K. Paulding, written 


twelve days later, is in answer to one from him, dated afc 
Washington, where he now held a post under Govern- 
ment, and of which Mr. Irving says in a letter to Bre- 
voort : " It brought so many recollections of early times, 
and scenes, and companions, and pursuits to my memory, 
that my heart was filled to overflowing." In the allusion 
to Decatur, it will be recollected that he had on the 22d 
of March previous fallen in a duel with Commodore Bar- 
ron, induced bv some animadversions of his on the con- 
duct of the latter in the affair of the Leopard and the 

London, May 27, 1820. 

My dear James : — 

It is some time since I received your very interesting and gratifying 
letter <^f January 20th, and I have ever since been on the point of answer- 
ing it, but been prevented by those thousand petty obstacles that are 
always in the way of letter writing. 

As 1 am launched upon the literary world here, I find my opportunities 
of observation extending. Murray's drawing-room is a great resort of 
first-rate literary characters ; whenever I have a leisure hour I go there, 
and seldom fail to meet with some interesting personages. The hours of 
access are from two to five. It is understood to be a matter of privilege, 
and that you must have a general invitation from Murray. Here I fre- 
quently meet with such personages as Gilford, Campbell, Foscolo, Hallam 
(author of a work on the Middle Ages), Southey, Milman, Scott, Belzoni, 
etc., etc. The visitors are men of different politics, though most fre- 
quently ministerialists. Gifford, of whom, as an old adversary, you may 
be curious to know something, is a small, shriveled, deformed man of 
about sixty, with something of a humped back, eyes that diverge, and a 
large mouth. He is generally reclining on one of the sofas, and support- 
ing himself by the cushions, being very much debilitated. He is mild 


and courteous in his manners, without any of the petulance that you 
would be apt to expect, and is quite simple, unaffected, and unassuming. 
Murray tells me that Gifford does not write any full articles for the "Re- 
view," but revises, modifies, prunes, and prepares whatever is offered ; 
and is very apl to extract the sting from articles that are rather virulent. 
Scott, or Sir Walter Scott, as he is now called, passed some few weeks in 
town lately, on coming up for his baronetcy. I saw him repeatedly, hav- 
ing formed an acquaintance with him two or three years since at his 
country retreat on the Tweed. He is a man that, if you knew, you 
woidd love ; a right honest>hearted, generous-spirited being ; without 
vanity, affectation, or assumption of any kind. He enters into every 
passing scene or passing pleasure with the interest and simple enjoyment 
of a child ; nothing seems too high or remote for the grasp of his mind, 
and nothing too trivial or low for the kindness and pleasantry of his 
spirit. When I was in want of literary counsel and assistance, Scott was 
the only literary man to whom I felt that I could talk about myself and 
my petty concerns with the confidence and freedom that I would to an 
old friend. Nor was I deceived ; from the first moment that I mentioned 
my work to him in a letter, he took a decided and effective interest in it, 
and has been to me an invaluable friend. It is only astonishing how he 
finds time, with such ample exercise of the pen, to attend so much to the 
interests and concerns of others ; but no one ever applied to Scott for any 
aid. counsel, or service that would cost time and trouble, that was not 
most cheerfully and thoroughly assisted. Life passes away with him in a 
round of good offices and social enjoyments. Literature seems his spoit 
rather than his labor or his ambition, and I never met with an author so 
completely void of all the petulance, egotism, and peculiarities of the 
craft ; but I am running into prolixity about Scott, who I confess has 
completely won my heart, even more as a man than as an author ; so, 
praying God to bless him, we will change the subject. 

Your picture of domestic enjoyment indeed raises my envy. With all 
my wandering habits, which are the result of circumstances rather than 
of disposition, I think I was formed for an honest, domestic, uxorious 
man, and I cannot hear of my old cronies snugly nestled down with good 


wives and fine children round them, but I feel for the moment desolate 
and forlorn. Heavens ! what a haphazard, schemeless life mine has been, 
that here I should be, at this time of life, youth slipping away, and scrib- 
bling month after month and year after year, far from home, without 
any means or prospect of entering into matrimony, which I absolutely 
believe indispensable to the happiness and even comfort of the after part 
of existence. When I fell into misfortunes and saw all the means of do- 
mestic establishment pass away like a dream, I used to comfort myself 
with the idea that if I was indeed doomed to remain single, you and Bre- 
voort and Gouv. Kemble would also do the same, and that we should 
form a knot of queer, rum old bachelors, at some future day, to meet at 
the corner of Wall Street or walk the sunny side of Broadway and kill 
time together. But you and Brevoort have given me the slip, and now 
that Gouv. has turned Vulcan and is forging thunderbolts so success- 
fully in the Highlands, I expect nothing more than to hear of his 
conveying some blooming bride up to the smithy. But heaven prosper 
you all, and grant that I may find you all thriving and happy when I 

I cannot close my letter without adverting to the sad story of our gal- 
lant friend Decatur ; though my heart lises to my throat the moment his 
idea comes across my mind. He was a friend "faithful and just" to 
me, and I have gone through such scenes of life as make a man feel the 
value of friendship. I can never forget how generously he stepped forth 
in my behalf when I felt beaten down and broken-spirited ; I can never 
forget him as the companion of some of my happiest hours, and as min- 
gled with some of the last scenes of home and its enjoyments ; these 
recollections bring him closer to my feelings than all the brilliancy of his 
public career. But he has lived through a life of animation and enjoy- 
ment, and died in the fullness of fame and prosperity ; his cup was al- 
ways full to the brim, and he has not lingered to drain it to the dregs 
and taste of the bitterness. I feel most for her he has left behind, and 
from all that I recollect of her devoted affection, her disconsolateness 
even during his temporary absence and jeopardy, I shrink from picturing 
to myself what must now be her absolute wretchedness. If she is still 


near you give her my most affectionate remembrances ; to speak of sym- 
pathy to her would be intrusion. 

And now, my dear James, with a full heart I take my leave of you r 
Let me hear from you just when it is convenient; no matter how long or 
how short the letter, nor think any apologies necessary for delays, only let 
me hear from you. I may suffer time to elapse myself, being unsettled, and 
often perplexed and occupied ; but believe me always the same in my 
feelings, however irregular in my conduct, and that no new acquaint- 
ances that a traveller makes in his casual sojournings are apt to wear out 
the deep recollections of his early Mends. Give my love to Gertrude, 
who I have no doubt is a perfect pattern for wives, and when your boy 
grows large enough to understand tough stories, tell him some of our 
early frolics, that he may have some kind of an acquaintance with me 
against we meet. 

Affectionately your friend, 

W. Irvxsg. 

On the 28th of June, after the printers had commenced 
upon the English edition of the second volume of the 
"Sketch Book," Mr. Irving transmitted to his brother 
Ebenezer the sheets for the seventh number, to be made 
up of " Westminster Abbey," " Stratford-on-Avon," "Lit- 
tle Britain," and the " Angler." 

Of the last article he writes : 

It is a sketch drawn almost entirely from the life; and, therefore, if it 
has no other merit, it has that of truth and nature. 

It is not likely (he adds) that I shall publish another number soon. 
I have had so much muddling work with the "Sketch Book" from pub- 
lishing in both countries, that I have grown tired of it, and have lost all 
excitement. I shall feel relieved from a cloud, when I get this volume 
printed and out of my sight 


The seventh number, published September 13, 1820, 
terminated the series in America ; but the second vol- 
ume of the English " Sketch Book," included two addi- 
tional articles, previously contributed by Mr. Irving to 
the "Analectic Magazine," namely: "Traits of Indian 
Character," and "Philip of Pokanoket." These articles 
were subsequently incorporated in the American vol- 

The following letters to his brother Ebenezer and Bre- 
voort were written on the eve of his departure for the 
continent on that long-talked-of excursion, to which he 
was looking forward when he embarked from America ; 
but which circumstances had so conspired to delay. 

[To Ebenezer Irving.] 

London, August, 15, 1830. 
. . . . The " Sketch Book " has been very successful in England. 
The first volume is out of print, which is doing very well, considering 
that it is but four or five months since it was published ; that it has had 
to make its own way, against many disadvantages, being written by an 
author the public knew nothing of, and published by a bookseller who 
was going to ruin. The second volume, of which a thousand were 
printed, is going off briskly ; and Murray proposes putting to press im- 
mediately a uniform edition of the two volumes at his own expense. I 
have offered, however, to dispose of the work to him entirely, and am 
to know his answer to-morrow.* He wishes, likewise to publish an 
edition of Knickerbocker, which has been repeatedly spoken well of in 

* Murray bought the copy right for two hundred pounds. 



the British publications, and particularly in "Blackwood's Magazine," in 
which 1 hare received the highest eulogium that has ever been passed 
upon me. It is written by Lockhart, author of "Peter's Letters to his 
Kinsfolk," and son-in-law to Sir Walter Scott. You will perceive that I 
have dedicated my second volume to Scott; but this dedication had not 
been seen by Lockhart at the time he wrote the eulogium. Should a new 
and complete edition of the work be published in America, I wish the 
dedication to be placed in the first volume. I cannot sufficiently express 
how sensible I feel of the warm and affectionate interest which Scott has 
a in me and my writings. My second volume has been noticed by 
two or thn e periodical publications, and in the same favorable way with 
the first. I have received abundance of private marks of approbation 
from literary people here ; and upon the whole, have reason to be highly 
gratified with the success of my literary enterprise in this country. After 
all, 1 value success here chiefly as tending to confirm my standing in my 
own country ; for it is to popularity at home that I look as the sweetest 
source of enjoyment. 

London, August 15, 1820. 
My dear Brevoort : — 

I am now in all the hurry and bustle of breaking up my encamp- 
ment, and moving off for the continent. After remaining so long in 
one place it is painful to cast loose again and turn oneself adrift ; but I 
do not wish to remain long enough in any place in Europe to make it a 

Since I have published with Murray, I have had continual opportunities 
of seeing something of the literary world, and have formed some very 
agreeable acquaintances 

There have been some literary coteries set on foot lately, by some Blue 
Stockings of fashion, at which I have been much amused. Lady Caroline 
Lamb is a great promoter of them. You may have read some of her 
writings, particularly her "Glenarvon," in which she has woven many 
dotes of fashionable life and fashionable characters; and hinted at 
particulars of her own story, and that of Lord Byron. She is a strange 


being, a compound of contradictions, with much to admire, much to stare 
at, and much to condemn 

I have been very much pleased also with Belzoni, the traveller, who is 
just bringing out a personal narrative of his researches, illustrated with 
very extraordinary plates. There is the interior of a temple, excavated in 
a hill, which he discovered and opened ; which had the effect on me of an 
Arabian tale. There arc rows of gigantic statues, thirty feet high, cut out 
of the calcareous rock, in perfect preseiwation. I have been as much de- 
lighted in conversing with him, and getting from him an account of his 
adventures and feelings, as was ever one of Sindbad's auditors. Belzoni is 
about six feet four or five inches high ; of a large frame, but a small, and, 
I think, a very fine head ; and a countenance which, at times, is very 
expressive and intelligent 

I have also frequently met with Mr. Hallam, whose able and interesting 
work on the Middle Ages you have no doubt seen, and most probably 
have in your library. Like all other men of real talent and unquestiona- 
ble merit, he is affable and unpretending. He is a copious talker, and you 
are sure, when he is present, to have conversation briskly kept up. But 
it is useless merely to mention names in this manner ; and is too much 
like entertaining one with a description of a banquet, by merely naming 
the dishes. One thing I have found invariably, that the greater the 
merit, the less has been the pretension ; and that there is no being so 
modest, natural, unaffected, and unassuming as a first-rate genius. 

I am delighted to hear that our worthy Patroon is doing well with his 
foundry. God bless and prosper him, and make him as rich and as happy 
as he deserves to be. I believe I told you in my last of a long letter, 
which I received from James Paulding — it was a most gratifying one to 
me; and it gave me a picture of quiet prosperity and domestic enjoyment, 
which it is delightful for a wandering, unsettled being like myself to con- 
template. ! my dear Brevoort, how my heart warms towards you all, 
when I get talking and thinking of past times and past scenes ! What 
would I not give for a few days among the Highlands of the Hudson, 
with the little knot that was once assembled there ! But I shall return 
home and find all changed, and shall be made sensible how much I have 


(•hanged myself. It is this idea which continually comes across my mind, 
when 1 think of home ; and I am continually picturing to myself the 
dreary state of a poor devil like myself, who, after wandering about the 
world among strangers, returns to lind himself a still greater stranger in 

his native place 

And now, my dear fellow, I must take my leave, for it is midnight, and 
I am wearied with packing trunks and making other preparations for my 
departure. The next you will hear from me will be from France ; and 
after passing five years in England among genuine John Bulls, it will be 
like entering into a new world to cross the channel. 


lodgings in paris. — growing popularity of the "sketch book" ih 
england. — its parentage ascribed to scott. — correspondence on 
tee subject. — christmas invitation. — murray authorizes draft of 
one hundred guineas for " sketch book," in addition to the terms 
agreed upon, and publishes knickerbocker. — letter to leslie. — 
his designs for knickerbocker. — his likeness of geoffrey. — peter 
Powell's burlesque account of its costume. — the author's sen- 

HE two brothers left London for Paris on the 
17th of August. 
I ought to have mentioned before, that they 
had occupied the same lodgings in London for about a 
year, during which Peter gave anonymously to the world a 
Venetian tale, taken from the French, entitled " Giovanni 
Sbogarro," which he had written at Birmingham. It was 
published in London and in New York, but belonging as 
it did to a school of fiction that was passing away under 
the brilliant advent of Scott, its pecuniary success was 
not very encouraging. 

Mr. Irving took lodgings at Paris, at No. 4 Rue Mont 
Thabor, in the vicinity of the Tuileries ; but he had be- 




come so unsettled in mind by shifting his quarters to 
new Bcenes, that it was some time before he was able to 
resume his pen. 

I have been about a month in Paris (he writes to William, September 
22il). and begin to feel a little more at home. Mr. Gallatin * has been 
extremely attentive tome. I have dined with him repeatedly. Either 
Paris or myself has changed very much since I was here before. It is by 
no means so gay as formerly ; that is to say, the populace have a more 
grave and triste appearance. You see but little of the sprightliness and 
gayety of manner for which the French are proverbial. However, as I 
have been here but a little time I will not begin to give opinions ; and as 
I wish my letter to go safe, I will not interlard it with any speculations 
on national character or concerns. 

Meanwhile the "Sketch Book" was making a fame for 
him in England. The "Edinburgh Keview," in an article 
written by Jeffrey, contained a handsome tribute to his 
talents, and perhaps not the least flattering circumstance 
connected with its publication in the eyes of Mr. Irving, 
was a rumor which ascribed its parentage to Sir Walter 

This fact was brought to his knowledge in a most 
gratifying manner in a letter from Mr. Eichard Kush, our 
minister at the court of St. James, transmitting one from 
the accomplished Lady Lyttleton, the daughter of Earl 
Spencer. As it forms a curious and interesting anecdote, 

* Albert Gallatin, the American Minister. 

London, October 20, 1820. 
11 Blenheim Street. 


I give the correspondence ; a portion of it being from 
copies retained by Mr. Irving. 

[From the Hon. Richard Rush to Wash. Irving.] 

My dear Sir : — 

I value the inclosed letter very highly, and would not trust it out of my 
own hands but to pass it to yours, and almost tremble at risking it to 
Paris. Pray, therefore, do not fail to return it, and I must say the 
sooner the better, as I shall wait impatiently for your answer before 
returning a final one to my fair correspondent. 

She is Lady Lyttleton, the daughter of Earl Spencer, and is among the 
most accomplished and lovely women of England ; worthy, as I think, 
of another monody from Hayley, should fate ever snatch her from her 
almost equally estimable husband. If you do not write to me soon all 
that you have to say upon her letter, I shall certainly give her to under- 
stand, and perhaps under my official seal, that you are the author of 
" Waverley," "Rob Roy," and some two or three more of the Shake- 
spearian novels ; for as Sir Walter Scott is to have the credit of the 
' ' Sketch Book, " I can see no good reason why a portion of his laurels 
should not be transferred to you by way of indemnification 

[From Lady Lyttleton to Mr. Rush.] 
Dear Sir: — 

I hope your Excellency will not think that I am presuming too far upon 
your goodness in taking the liberty of making an inquiry which relates to 
a subject of some interest, I think to yourself as well as to me. A report 
has lately prevailed in the literary world, I do not exactly know upon 
what grounds, that the "Sketch Booh," which you first procured us the 
very great pleasure of reading, was written, not as it professes to be, by a 
countryman of yours, but by Sir Walter Scott, whose very numerous dis- 


guises and whose well-known fondness for literary masquerading seem to 
have gained him the advantage of being suspected as the author of every 
distinguished work that is published. It appears to me that the merits 
of the "Sketch Book"are so very unlike those of Scott, and that the 
style and nature of the work are so new and peculiar, that it puts me out 
of all patience to hear the surmise, and I could not rest till I had applied 
to your Excellency for some proof of its falsehood. I am told that nobody 
has yet actually sei n a copy of the book printed in America ; that Sir 
Walter Scott, a great friend, as he calls himself, of the pretended author, 
inadvertently asserted one day that Mr. Washington Irving had resided 
in London all the time he was in England ; he could not, therefore, it 
was inferred, have written the admirably just descriptions of English 
rural life; and upon my appearing obstinately incredulous, I was assured 
that if Sir Walter Scott did not write the whole, he at least revised the 
language, and had all the merit of the style. Let me entreat your Excel- 
lency to send me a triumphant proof that all this is groundless, and that 
the very prettiest and most amiable book we have read for a long time has 
not the defect of being a trick upon readers 

[From Washington Irving to Mr. Rush.] 


My dear Sib :— 

I feel very much obliged by your letter of the 20th, and am highly flat- 
tered by the letter of Lady Lyttleton, which you were so good as to 
inclose, and which I herewith return. It is indeed delightful to receive 
applause from such a quarter. As her ladyship seems desirous of full and 
explicit information as to the authorship of the " Sketch Book," you may 
re her that it was entirely written by myself ; that the revisions and 
corrections were my own, and that I have had no literary assistance either 
in the beginning or the finishing of it. I speak fully to this point, not 
from any anxiety of authorship, but because the doubts which her lady- 
ship has heard on the subject seem to have arisen from the old notion 

Paris, October 28, 1820. 

4 Rue Mont Thabor. 


that it is impossible for an American to write decent English. If 1 have 
indeed been fortunate enough to do anything, however trifling, to stagger 
this prejudice, I am too good a patriot to give up even the little ground 
I have gained. As to the article on "Rural Life in England," which 
appears to have pleased her ladyship, it may give it some additional 
interest in her eyes to know that though the result of general impressions 
received in various excursions about the country, yet it was sketched in 
the vicinity of Hagley * just after I had been rambling about its grounds, 
and whilst its beautiful scenery, with that of the neighborhood, were 
fresh in my recollection. 

I cannot help smiling at the idea that anything I have written should 
be deemed worthy of being attributed to Sir Walter Scott, and that I 
should be called upon to vindicate my weak pen from the honor of such a 
parentage. He could tenant half a hundred scribblers like myself on the 
mere skirts of his literary reputation. He never saw my writings until in 
print ; but though he has not assisted me with his pen, yet the interest 
which he took in my success ; the praises which he bestowed on some of 
the first American numbers forwarded to him ; the encouragement he 
gave to me to go on and do more, and the countenance he gave to the first 
volume when republished in England, have, perhaps, been more effectu- 
ally serviceable than if he had revised and corrected my work page by 
page. He has always been to me a frank, generous, warm-hearted friend, 
and it is one of my greatest gratifications to be able to call him such. 
Indeed, it is the delight of his ncble and liberal nature to do good and to 
dispense happiness; those who only know him through his writings know 
not a tithe of his excellence. f 

Present my sincere remembrances to Mrs. Rush, and believe me, dear 
sir, With very great respect, 

Yours faithfully, 

Washington Irving. 

♦The seat of Lord Lyttleton, where the old customs were kept up, as related by 
Geoffrey Crayon in his Christmas Eve and Christmas Dinner. 
t Prom a draft of Mr. Irving' s reply. 

vol. i.— 23 


The information contained in this letter, or perhaps 
tht 1 letter itself, was communicated by Mr. Rush to Lady 
Lyttleton, and was succeeded by a message from Lord 
and Lady Spencer, her parents, expressing an earnest 
desire to become acquainted with the author of the 
" Sketch Book," and inviting him to spend the approach- 
ing Christmas at their place. The invitation was con- 
veyed through Mr. Rush, in a note from Mr. Lyttleton. 
The following is Mr. Irving's reply, which I give from a 
copy preserved among his papers. 

[To the Hon. Richard Rush.] 

Paris, December 6, 1830. 

My dear Sir : — 

I feel very much indebted to you for your letter of the 27th, and hardly 
know how to express myself as to the very flattering communication from 
Mr. Lyttleton. It is enough to excite the vanity of a soberer man than 
myself. Nothing would give me greater gratification than to avail my- 
self of the hospitable invitation of Lord and Lady Spencer, but at pres- 
ent it is out of my power to leave Paris, and would be deranging all my 
plans to return immediately to England. Will you be kind enough to 
convey to Mr. Lyttleton my sincere acknowledgments of his politeness, 
and also of the honor done me by Lord and Lady Spender ; but above 
all, in v heartfelt sense of the interest evinced in my behalf by Lady 
Lyttleton, which I frankly declare is one of the most gratifying cir- 
cumstances that has befallen me in the whole course of my literary 

Excuse all this trouble which circumstances oblige me to give youi 
Excellency, and believe me, with my best remembrances to Mrs. Rush, 

Yours very faithfully, 

Washington Irving. 


Some weeks prior to the date of this letter (October 
26), Mr. Murray informed the author that his volumes 
had succeeded so much beyond his mercantile estimate, 
that he begged he would do him the favor to draw on 
him at sixty-five days for one hundred guineas, in addi- 
tion to the terms agreed upon. 

He had also been encouraged to publish the " History 
of New York." 

I did not know you [he writes] as I ought and might have known you 
until I read "Knickerbocker," of which I am equally happy and proud to 
have been, though tardily, the publisher. After all, it is at present, and 
only at present, I trust, your opus magnum ; it is the Don Quixote or Iludi- 
bras of your country, and, connected with your age at the time it was 
written, displays most certain marks of genius. It is very generally liked 
here ; and if so, how much more it must be felt, and therefore much 
more enjoyed by your own countrymen. I am cmite delighted with the nov- 
elty of character and sceneiy, which you have so admirably dramatized, 
and so vividly painted. I have printed it in one octavo volume to range 
with the "Sketch Book ; " but I think this is not the form most appro- 
priate to it, and I now propose to reprint it in four or five small volumes 
bike Lord Byron's works, and denominated foolscap octavo. 

In the same letter, Mr. Murray informs him that he 
had been very much struck with the exquisite humor 
and correct taste of Leslie's first design, and had en- 
gaged him to look over the volume and see if he could 
make eight or twelve designs equally happy with the 
first. He also urges him no longer to conceal his name 
from the world, but to accept openly the wreath the pub- 


lie had in store for him, give his name to the works, and 
write a simple preface announcing it. 

At this time Murray had already reprinted the second 
volume of the " Sketch Book," and was preparing a new 
and uniform edition of both volumes in a smaller size. 

In another part of his letter he says : " By the way, 
Lord Byron says in his pithy manner, in a letter received 
to-day, of date October 8, ' Crayon is [very] good,' inter- 
lined as I have written it."* 

It is very evident, if Mr. Murray had placed too low 
an estimate upon Mr. Irving at first, he was fully alive 
to his merits now. " I am convinced," he says, " I did 
not half know you, and esteeming you highly as I did, 
certainly my esteem is doubled by my better knowledge 
of you." It was something of a triumph to receive such 
a letter from the bookseller who had first declined being 
his publisher. 

* In a manuscript account of a visit to Byron at Eavenna, in June, 
1821, now before me, by a young American, whom Byron describes as 
" intelligent, very handsome," "a little romantic," the poet, after a high 
encomium upon the Knickerbocker history, thus breaks off about the 
" Sketch Book : " " His Crayon— I know it by heart, at least there is not 
a passage that I cannot refer to immediately." 

In alluding to this American visitor, Mr. Coolidge of Boston, Byron 
Bays in a letter to Moore : "I talked with him much of Irving, whose 
writings are my delight. But I suspect that he did not take quite so 
much to me, from his having expected to meet a misanthropical gentle- 
man, in wolf-skin breeches, and answering in fierce monosyllables, instead 
of a man of this world. I can never get people to understand that poetry 
is the expression of excited passion, and that there is no such thing as a 
life of passion any more than a continuous earthquake, or an eternal 


On the receipt of this letter he writes to Leslie : — 

I have just received a very long and friendly letter from Mr. Murray, 
who in fact has overwhelmed me with eulogiums. It appears that my 
writings are selling well, and he is multiplying editions. I am very glad 
to find that he has made your acquaintance, and still more that he has 
taken a great liking to you. He speaks of you in the most gratifying 
terms. He has it in his power to be of service to you, and I trust he will 
be. He tells me he has requested you to look over " Knickerbocker" for 
subjects for eight or ten sketches, and the "Sketch Book" for a couple, 
and he wishes me to assist you with my opinion on the subject. I will 
look over the books and write to you in a day or two. Murray is going 
to make me so fine in print that I shall hardly know myself. Could not 
Allston's design be reduced without losing the characteristic humor of it ? 
I am delighted to think that your labors are to be thus interwoven with 
mine, so that we shall have a kind of joint interest and pride in every 

My dear boy, it is a grievous thing to be separated from you, and I feel 
it more and more. I wish to heaven this world were not so wide, and 
that we could manage to keep more together in it ; this continual separ- 
ating from those we like is one of the curses of an unsettled life, and with 
all my vagrant habits I cannot get accustomed to it. 

. . . . Mr. Tappan, who bears this letter, told me that it was the 
wish of Fairman and yourself that an engraving should be made from the 
likeness you have of me. It is a matter I do not feel so much objection 
to a3 I did formerly, having been so much upon the town lately as to have 
lest much of my modesty. And as I understand that there has been some 
spurious print of my phiz in America, I do not care if another is made to 
push it out of sight. You will only be caref ul to finish the picture so as 
not to give it too fixed and precise a fashion of dress. I preferred the 
costume of Newton's likeness of me, which was trimmed with fur. These 
modern dresses are apt to give a paltry, commonplace air. 

This caution to Leslie about the costume proved the 


occasion of a piece of waggery on the part of a facetious 
friend, Peter Powell, one of his little circle of intimates in 
London, consisting of Leslie, Newton, the " Childe," as he 
was nicknamed, and Willis, an Irish landscape painter, 
more frequently spoken of in his letters as Father Luke. 
In writing to him, Powell informed him that he under- 
stood the world was soon to be gratified by an engraving 
of his physiognomy, to grace the next edition of his 
works. " Leslie's picture is very much like you," he 
writes, "but I think plain, unsophisticated people will 
be monstrously puzzled to know why you should be 
drawn in the habiliments of a Venetian nobleman of the 
sixteenth century, though as far as effect goes it is pic- 
turesque enough." 

This supposed change in Leslie's portrait of him called 
out the following sensitive comment in a letter to the 
artist, of December 19. 

I received a letter from Peter Powell, in which he speaks of my por- 
trait being in the engraver's hands, and that it is painted in the old Vene- 
tian costume. I hope you have not misunderstood my meaning when I 
spoke about the costume in which I should like to be painted. I believe 
I spoke something about the costume of Newton's portrait. I meant 
Newton's portrait of me, not of himself. If you recollect, he painted me 
as if in some kind of an overcoat with a fur cape ; a dress that had nothing 
in it remarkable, but which merely avoided any present fashion that 
might in a few years appear stupid. The Venetian dress which Newton 
painted himself in would have a fantastic appearance, and savor of affec- 
tation. If it is not too late, I should like to have the thing altered. Let 
the costume be simple and picturescpie, but such a one as a gentleman 


might be supposed to wear occasionally at the present day. I only 
wanted you to avoid the edges, and corners, and angles with which a 
modern coat is so oddly and formally clipped out at the present day. 

"I received yesterday yours of the 19th," writes Leslie in reply, "and 
hasten to relieve your mind from any apprehensions you may enter- 
tain with regard to the costume of your portrait, which is still in my 
room exactly in the state in which you last saw it. I shall finish it in a 
day or two strictly according to your wishes. The Venetian dress was 
only a phantom of Peter Powell's imagination, conjured up to disturb 
your evening dreams." 

The whimsical personage who had thus amused him- 
self at the expense of the author, I have heard Mr. Ir- 
ving characterize as a fine, honorable little fellow, with a 
fund of humor and a special gift for mimicry. One of 
his performances was a burlesque of the opera of "Moses 
in Egypt " ; another, an oratorio in which he began by 
handing in his imaginary female singers, and Leslie hints 
at a third, in an allusion to his " gallanting that imagi- 
nary flock of geese." It was a great treat to his friends 
to witness these comic exhibitions, but in all his traves- 
ties, said Mr. Irving, in attempting an exemplification of 
one of them, there was nothing overdone. He made his 
acquaintance when preparing the first number of the 
"Sketch Book," and introduced him afterwards to Leslie 
and Newton, with the first of whom he became a great 

November 30, 1820, he writes to Leslie : — 

I hear that you are going on with the sketches for "Knickerbocker," 
and that you have executed one on the same subject Allston once chose, 


namely, "Peter Stuyvesant rebuking the cobbler." I wish you would 
drop me a line and let me know what subjects you execute, and how you 
and Murray make out together. I hear that you have taken the " Childe " 
to Murray's ; you have only to make him acquainted with Willis and 
Pi ter Powell, and he will then be able to make one at your tea-kettle 

" The Childe " had just written to him that Willis had 
sent them home at four in the morning, " reeling with 

The letter proceeds : — 

I have jiist made a brief but very pleasant excursion into Lower Nor- 
mandy in company with Mr. Ritchie. I must refer you to a letter scrib- 
bled to Peter Powell for a full and faithful narrative of this tour. 

I have not this letter, but some pencil memoranda of 
the tour show that he started on the 8th November, arid 
that his travels extended to Honfleur, at the mouth of 
the Seine, the scene of his story of " Annette Delarbre " 
iu "Bracebridge Hall." 

In his answer, dated December 3, Leslie says : — 

The subjects I have chosen are a Dutch fireside, with an old negro tell- 
ing stories to the children ; William the Testy suspending a vagrant by 
the heels on his patent gallows ; Peter Stuyvesant confuting the cobbler ; 
i n 1 Anthony Van Corlear taking leave of the young vrows. All of them 
I have finished except the last, and Mr. Murray appears to be highly 
pleased with them. 

He is delighted with Allston's picture of " Wouter Van T wilier," which 
will be engraved with the rest. He talks a great deal about you, when- 
ever 1 see him, in terms of the highest praise and friendship. The 
" Sketch Book " is entirely out of print. 


1 like all the subjects that you have chosen for the designs [writes the 
author in reply] except that of William the Testy suspending the vaga- 
bond by the breeches. The circumstance is not of sufficient point or 
character in the history to be iUustrated. 

Leslie, in explanation, assigns as a reason for the selec- 
tion, that Murray wished one design at least from the 
reign of each governor, and he was puzzled in finding 
one that could be brought within a small compass from 
that part of the book. " I was somewhat fearful of it 
myself," he adds, " but Newton thinks you would like it." 

Meanwhile the new candidate for fame was steadily 
gaining in reputation in England. " I think you are a 
most fortunate fellow of an author," writes Peter Powell, 
December 3, " in regard to your debut amongst us in 
this critical age, for I have not heard of your having so 
much as a nose or a member of any kind cut up by the 
anatomists of literature ; on the contrary, there seems to 
be almost a conspiracy to hoist you over the heads of 
your contemporaries." And Leslie writes, December 24 : 
"Miller says Geoffrey Crayon is the most fashionable 
fellow of the day. I am very much inclined to think if 
you were here just now, ' company would be the spoil of 
you.' " Then, begging to be remembered to his brother 
Peter, he concludes : " All the lads join in wishing you 
both a merry Christmas and happy New Tear. I intend 
appropriating a part of to-morrow to reading your Christ- 
mas article. I shall stick up your portrait before my 
face, and bury myself in an enormous elbow-chair I have 


got, over which ' Murphy often sheds his puppies/ re- 
lying on the book I shall hold in my hand to act as a 
charm ugainst the seductions of the seat. These asso- 
ciations are the best means by which I can console my- 
self for your absence." 



T was at the close of this year that Mr. Irving 
made the acquaintance of one of the most 
brilliant and delightful of his contemporaries, 
Thomas Moore, the Irish poet, then an absentee in Paris, 
on account of some pending liabilities of government 
against him, arising out of the defalcation of his deputy 
at Bermuda, which he was hoping to adjust. Moore has 
this entry on the subject in his diary : — 

December 21, 1820. — Dined with McKay at the table d'hote at Meurice'g 
for the purpose of being made known to Mr. Washington Irving, the 
author of the work which has lately had success, the "Sketch Book ;" a 
good-looking and intelligent-mannered man. 




McKay, who brought the two authors together, was an 
Irish gentleman who had come to the French capital 
from England on a mission to inspect the prisons ; and 
two days after (December 23), he, Lord John Russell, 
Moore, and Mr. Irving were visiting in company the room 
in which the ill-fated Marie Antoinette was confined. 

I find loose among his papers this brief record of the 
visit to a place seldom open to a stranger's inspection. 

I have just returned from the prison of Marie Antoinette. Under the 
palace of Justice is a range of cavernous dungeons, called the Concier- 
gerie, the last prison in which criminals are confined previous to execu- 
tion. We were admitted through grated doors, and conducted along 
damp dark passages, lighted in some places by dim windows, in others by 
lamps. On these passages opened the grates of several dungeons in 
which victims were thrown during the revolution, to indulge in the hor- 
rible anticipation of certain death. My flesh crept on my bones as I 
passed through these regions of despair, and fancied these dens peopled 
with their wretched inhabitants. I fancied their worn and wasted faces 
glaring through the grates, to catch, if possible, some ray of hope or 
mitigation of horror, but seeing nothing except the sentinel pacing up 
and down the passage, or perhaps some predecessor in misery, dragged 
along to execution. In this were confined the victims of Robespierre, 
and finally Robespierre himself. 

From this corridor we were led through a small chapel into what at 
present forms the sacristy, but which was once the dungeon of the un- 
happy Queen of France. It is low and arched ; the walls of prodigious 
thickness, lighted dimly by a small window. The walls have been plas- 
tered and altered, a^d the whole is fitted up with an air of decency ; 
nothing remains of the old dungeon but the pavement. In one part is a 
monument placed by Louis XVII T., and around the dungeon are paint- 
ings illustrating some of the latest prison scenes of her unhappy life. 


The place is shown where her bed stood, divided simply by a screen from 
the rest of the dungeon in which a guard of soldiers was constantly sta- 
tioned ; beside this dungeon is the black hole — I can give it no better 
term — in which the Princess Elizabeth was thrust a few hours prior to 
her execution. 

Never have I felt my heart melting with pity more than in beholding 
this last abode of wretchedness. What a place for a queen, and such a 
queen ! one brought up so delicately, fostered, admired, adored. 

The acquaintance with Moore thus commenced grew 
speedily into intimacy, as will be seen by the following 
letter to Brevoort, in answer to one urging his return to 
New York. 

Paris, March 10, 1821. 

Dear Brevoort : — 

. . . . You urge me to return to New York, and say, many ask 
whether I mean to renounce my country. For this last question I have 
no reply to make, and yet I will make a reply. As far as my precarious 
and imperfect abilities enable me, I am endeavoring to serve my country. 
Whatever I have written has been written with the feelings and published 
as the writing of an American. Is that renouncing my country ? How 
else am I to serve my country ? by coming home and begging an office 
of it ; which I should not have the kind of talent or the business habits 
requisite to fill ? If I can do any good in this world it is with my pen. 
I feel that even with that I can do very little, but if I do that little and 
do it as an American, I think my exertions ought to guarantee me from 
so unkind a question as that which you say is generally made. 

As to coming home, I should at this moment be abandoning my literary 
plans, such as they are. I should lose my labor in various literary ma- 
terials which I have in hand, and to work up which I must be among 
the scenes where they were conceived. I should arrive at home at a time 
when my slender finances require an immediate exercise of my talents, 
but should be so agitated and discomposed in my feelings by the meet- 


with my friends, the revival of many distressing circumstances and 
trains of thought, and should be so hurried by the mere attentions of 

ty, months would elapse before I could take pen in hand, and 

then I would have to strike out some entirely new plan and begin ab ovo. 

Ls to the idea you hold out of being provided for sooner or later in our 

mate city, I can only say that I see no way in which I could be pro- 
vided for, not being a man of business, a man of science, or in fact any 
thing but a mere belles-lettres writer. And as to the fortunate character of 
our city; to me and mine it has been a very disastrous one. I have writ- 
ten on this point at some length, as I wish to have done with it. My re- 
turn home must depend upon circumstances, not upon inclinations. I 
have by patient and persevering labor of my most uncertain pen, and by 
catching the gleams of sunshine in my cloudy mind, managed to open to 
myself an avenue to some degree of profit and reputation. I value it the 
inure highly because it is entirely independent and self-created; and I 
must use my best endeavors to turn it to account. In remaining, there- 
fore, abroad, I do it with the idea that I can best exert my talents, 
for the present, where I am ; and that I trust, will be admitted as a 
sufficient reply from a man who has but his talents to feed and clothe 


I have become very intimate with Anacreon Moore, who is living here 
with his family. Scarce a day passes without our seeing each other, and 
he has made me acquainted with many of his friends here. He is a 
charming, joyous fellow; full of frank, generous, manly feeling. I am 
happy to say he expresses himself in the fullest and strongest manner on 
the subject of his writings in America, which he pronounces the great 
sin of his early life. He is busy upon the life of Sheridan and upon a 
Hi- acquaintance is one of the most gratifying things I have met 
with for some time; as he takes the warm interest of an old friend in me 
and my concerns. 

Canning is likewise here with his family, and has been very polite in 
his attentions to me. He has expressed a very flattering opinion of my 
writings both here and in England, and his opinion is of great weight 
and value in the critical world. I had a very agreeable dinner at his 


house a few days since, at which I met Moore, Sir Sidney Smith, and 
several other interesting characters. 

"You keep excellent company in Paris," Brevoort an- 
swers. " Anacreon Moore and Mr. Canning ; these are 
names that set one's blood in motion." Brevoort would 
have been glad if he had enriched his letters with more 
particulars of the interesting characters he was meeting, 
but his friend used jestingly to say that he was now liv- 
ing by his pen, and must save up all his anecdotes and 
good things for his publishers. 

Nine days after the date of this letter, March 19, 
Moore furnishes this interesting glimpse of the author, 
and of the origin of " Bracebridge Hall," the work which 
Mr. Irving was next to give to the world. 

lMh. — Too happy to dine at home to-day. Bessy in low spirits at 
parting with our dear Anastasia, who goes to-day to Mrs. Forster's. Ir- 
ving called near dinner time ; asked him to stay and share our roast 
chicken with us, which he did. He has been hard at work writing lately; 
in the course of ten days has written about one hundred and thirty pages 
of the size of those in the "Sketch Book ;" this is amazing rapidity. 
Has followed up an idea which T suggested, and taken the characters in 
his "Christmas Essay," Master Simon, etc., etc., for the purpose of mak- 
ing a slight thread of a story on which to string his remarks and sketches 
of human manner and feelings ; left us at nine. 

A week later we have from Moore this further glimpse 
of Irving at a dance at the poet's new apartments, in 
celebration of the tenth anniversary of his marriage to 
Bessy, for whom, with all his devotion to the gay world, 


Mr. Irving used always to bear witness, his affection was 
deep -'Aid unchanging. 

With. — Bessy busy in preparations for the dance this evening; 

Went into town (no late to return to dinner, and dined at Very's alone. 
Found <ni my return our little rooms laid out with great management and 
decorated with quantities of flowers, which Mrs. Story had sent. Our 
company, Mrs. S. and her cousins, Mrs. Forster, her two daughters and 
Miss Bridgeman, the Yillamils, Irving, Captain Johnson, Wilder, etc., 
and the Douglases. Began with music; Mrs. V., Miss Drew, and Emma 
Forster sung. Our dance afterwards to the pianoforte very gay, and not 
the less so for the floor giving way in sundry places ; a circle of chalk 
was drawn around one hole, Dr. Yonge was placed sentry over another, 
and whenever there was a new crack, the general laugh at the heavy foot 
that produced it, caused more merriment than the solidest floor in Paris 
could have given birth to. Sandwiches, negus, and champagne crowned 
the night, and we did not separate till near four in the morning. Ir- 
ving's humor began to break out as the floor broke in, and he was much 
more himself than ever I have seen him. 

A few loose leaves of an imperfect journal of the au- 
thor, found among his papers after his death, give an 
interesting account of his first meeting with Talma, the\ 
great French tragedian, in company with John Howard 
Payne, the young American Koscius of former days. 
Payne was a fellow-townsman of Mr. Irving, who had 
appeared with great eclat at the Park Theatre in New 
York in his sixteenth year, in the character of young 
Norval. He had outgrown all tragic symmetry after leav- 
ing his country in 1813 to try his success in England, and 
from being an actor, had assumed at one time the man- 


agement of Sadler's Wells ; had failed in this and got in 
debt. He afterwards brought out Junius Brutus, a trag- 
edy which he had manufactured out of two or three 
plays. It had a great run, and Mr. Irving called on him 
in London to congratulate him on his success : but alas! 
its success had proved his ruin. It brought his creditors 
down upon him, and he was thrown into prison. Here 
he wrote " Teresa, or the Orphan of Geneva," which was 
successful and extricated him. Then he escaped to Paris, 
where Mr. Irving met him. Payne was a fluent writer, 
and for a while a successful performer ; but he is most 
favorably known at the present day as the author of 
"Home, Sweet Home," a popular song which he intro- 
duced in his opera of "Clari, or the Maid of Milan." 
The profits arising from it, realized by the manager and 
not by Payne, have been stated to have amounted to two 
thousand guineas in two years. 

Paris, April 25th, 1821. — Breakfasted this morning with John Howard 
Payne. He has the first floor of a small house, in a garden No. 16 Petit 
rue de St. Petre, Pont aux choux. The morning was fine and the air 
soft and spring-like. His casements were thrown open, and the breezes 
that blew in were extremely grateful. He has a couple of canary birds, 
with a little perch ornamented with moss. He stands it in the window, 
and they fly about the garden and return to their perch for food and to 
rest at night. 

Payne is full of dramatic projects, and some that are very feasible. 

After breakfast we strolled along the Boulevards, gossiping, staring at 
groups and sights and signs, and looking over booksellers' stalls. He 
proposed to me to call on Talma, who had just returned to Paris. He has 
vol. i. — 24 


a suite of apartments in a hotel, No. — Rue des Petites Augustines. 
He has a seat in the country about — miles from Paris, of which he is 
extremely fond, and is continually altering and improving, though he can 
Beldom gel there above once a week. He is about to build a town resi- 
dence, and at present lives in lodgings. I got Payne to mount before me, 
as I did not wish to call on Talma so unceremoniously. Payne found him 
changing his linen. lie requested him immediately to bring me up. On 
ing he receive 1 me in a very friendly, frank way, and turning to 
Payne, said : " Why lie is quite a young man ; " it seems he had expected 
e an old one ; his room was full of furniture, and books, etc., rather 
confused. I remarked a colored engraving of John Kemble. 

Talma is about 5 feet 7 or 7£ inches English, rather inclined to fat, with 
large face and thick neck. His eyes are bluish, and have a peculiar cast 
in them at times. He speaks English well, and is very frank, animated, 
and natural in conversation ; a fine, hearty simplicity of manner. Asked 
me if this was my first visit to Paris ; told him that I had been here once 
before — about fourteen years since. " Ah ! that was in the time of the 
Emperor," said he. He remarked that Paris was very much changed ; 
thinks the French character greatly changed; more grave. You see the 
young men from the colleges, said he ; how grave they are ; they walk 
:her, conversing incessantly on polities and other grave subjects ; 
says the nation has become as grave as the English. 

We spoke of the French play of Hamlet. I asked if other of Shake- 
speare's plays were adapting for the French stage. He believed not. He 
thinks there is likely to be great changes in French drama. The public 
greater interest in scenes that come home to common life and people 
in ordinary situations, than in the distresses of heroic personages of clas- 
si literature. Hence they never come to the Theatre Francais except to 
see a few great actors, but they crowd to the minor theatres to see the 
representation of ordinary life. He says the revolution has made so many 
strong and vivid scenes of real life pass before their eyes, that they can 
no longer be affected by mere declamation and fine language ; they 
require character, incident, passion, life. 

Says if there should be another revolution it would be a bloody one. 


The nation (t. e. the younger part, children of the revolution) have such 
a hatred of the priests and noblesse, that they would fly upon them like 
sheep. Mentions the manner in which certain parts of plays have been 
applauded lately at Rouen ; one part which said, " Usurpers are not al- 
ways tyrants." When we were coming away he followed us to the door 
of his ante-chamber; in passing through the latter I saw children's 
swords and soldiers' caps lying on the table, and said, " Your children, 
I see, have swords for playthings." He replied with animation, that all 
the amusements of the children were military ; that they would have 
nothing to play with but swords, guns, trumpets, drums, etc. 

It was after this interview that Mr. Irving saw Talma's 
performance of Hamlet, and I find among his papers this 
allusion to the tragedy and the actor. 

The successful performance of a translation of Hamlet has been an era 
in the French drama. It is true the play has been sadly mutilated ; it 
has been stripped of its most natural and characteristic beauties, and an 
attempt has been made to reduce it to the naked stateliness of one of their 
own dramas ; but it still retains enough of the wild magnificence of 
Shakespeare's imagination to give it an individual character on the French 
stage. Though the ghost of Hamlet's father does not actually tread the 
boards, yet he hovers in idea about his son, and the powerful acting of 
Talma gives an idea of this portentous visitation far more awful and 
mysterious than could be presented by any spectral representation. The 
effect of this play on the French audiences is astonishing. The doors of 
the theatre are besieged at an early hour on the evening of its represen- 
tation ; the houses are crowded to overflowing ; the audience continually 
passes from intervals of breathless attention to bursts of ungovernable 
applause. I have seen a lady carried fainting from the boxes, overcome 
by the acting of Talma in the scene with his mother, where he fancies he 
sees the spectre of his father. 

Newton had at this time acquired a good deal of dis- 


tinction from a picture, "Le Facheux," which had got 
one of the best places at the exhibition, between Wilkie 
and Jackson. It had made quite a sensation in the 
papers, and had been purchased by Thomas Hope, the 
author of " Anastasius." He could hardly have been more 
fortunate in the character of the purchaser or the gal- 
lery to which it was destined, Hope having the finest col- 
lection in London. " I have something of your feeling," he 
writes to the author of the " Sketch Book," February 10, 
1821, " on occasion of this distinction, and am terribly ner- 
vous lest I should not get as good a subject for my next." 
At the date of the leaf or fragment which follows, and 
which, like the note of his visit to Talma, I gleaned from 
some literary rubbish of the author, Moore had changed 
his quarters for a cottage in the neighborhood of St. 
Cloud; and Kenney, the delineator of "Jeremy Diddler," 
had found a nestling place in the elbow of an old royal 
castle on the crest of a hill opposite. 

2Iay lCrfh, 1821. — I took an early dinner at 4 o'clock, and rode but 
afterwards to see Moore. Took a place in a cuckoo to St. Cloud. It was 
a lovely afternoon, and the walk through the park of St. Cloud was de- 
lightful ; views of the Seine, with boats drifting down it ; bridges cross- 
ing it. Found Moore at his cottage in the park of Mr. Villamil's seat, La 
Butte ; a very pretty cottage ; magnificent scenery all about it. It 
stands on the side of the hill that rises above Sevres. To the left is St. 
Cloud and its grand park. The Seine winds at the foot of the hill, and 
the great plain of Xeuilly lies before you, with the Bois de Boulogne and 
Paris in the distance ; glorious effect of sunset on Moore's balcony ; the 
gilded dome of the Invalides flamim? in the sunshine. 


Accompanied Mr. and Mrs. Moore, and the Villamils to Mr. Kenney's, 
author of " Raising the Wind," etc. He married the widow of Ilolcroft, 
who had several children ; her stock and his own made eight children. 
They have apartments in one of the wings, or rather the offices of the 
old chateau of Belle vue, built by Louis XV., where he and Madame 
Pompadour lived. The old chateau is a picture of grandeur in decay ; 
the windows broken ; the clock shattered ; the court-yards grass-grown ; 
apartments in a ruined and dilapidated state. Kenney's establishment 
squalid ; remains of magnificent furniture ; old sofa, with griffin-head 
arms ; old stools, which had doubtless been for the courtiers in the royal 

Kenney a very worthy and a very pleasant fellow ; a thin, pale man, with 
a gentleness of demeanor and manner, and very nervous. He gave some 
descriptions of scenes in London with admirable truth and character. 
Moore told me that he was once giving Kenney an account of his mis- 
fortunes ; the heavy blow he sustained in consequence of the default 
of his agent in Bermuda. Kenney expressed the strongest sympathy. 
" Gad, sir, it's well you were a poet ; a philosopher never would have 
borne it." 

June 21, we have this mention in Moore's diary of a 
dinner at his cottage, in which Lord John Russell, Lut- 
trel, the author of " Advice to Julia," then newly arrived, 
and Irving, were his guests. " In speaking of my abuse 
of the Americans, Irving said it was unlucky that some 
of my best verses were upon that subject ; ' put them in 
his strongest pickle,' said Luttrel." 

Luttrel was noted for the grace and delicacy of his wit, 
and I have heard Mr. Irving express admiration of an 
impromptu specimen which occurred about this time in 
his presence. 


Moore, Luttrel, and himself were walking together, 
when. Moore alluded to the uncertain fate of a female 
aeronaut who took her flight into the empyrean and con- 
tinual to ascend in her "airy ship," until she was lost 
to view, and, added the poet, "never heard of more." 
" Handed out by Enoch and Elijah," was Luttrel's imme- 
diate and happy response. 

In Moore's diary we have this further glimpse of his 
friend at Paris. 

July 2d, 1821. — Took Irving to present him to the Hollands ; my lady 
very gracious to him. 

Mr. Irving was at this time so anxious to get on with 
his literary pursuits, that he rather avoided the gay 

I have advances made me by society [he writes to Brevoort not long 
before], that were I a mere seeker of society, would be invaluable ; but I 
dread so much being put out in my pursuits and distracted by the mere 
hurry of fashionable engagements that I keep aloof and neglect opportu- 
nities which I may perhaps at some future day look back to with regret. 

About this time he received from his London publisher 
the following concise authority to draw on him for a hun- 
dred pounds, a second gratuitous contribution for the 
" Sketch Book," of which, writes Newton, " Murray says 
its success, considering all things, is unparalleled." 


London, June 20, 1821. 
My dear Irving : — 

Draw upon me for a hundred pounds, of which I beg thy acceptance, 
and pray tell me how you are and what you arc about ; and above all, 
pardon my short letter. .Believe me ever, 

Thy faithful friend, 

John Murray. 

There is a review of the "Sketch Book "in the "Quarterly," which 
you will like. 

The following is the author's reply : — 

[ To John Murray. ] 

Pabis, July 6, 1821. 

My dear Sir : — 

I write in very great haste to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of 
the 29th ult. I am extremely happy to hear that the " Sketch Book " has 
been favorably noticed in the "Quarterly." I have not seen the Review, 
but I doubt whether any criticism in it can be so emphatic as that in 
your letter. You were certainly intended for a critic. I never knew any 
one convey so much meaning in so concise and agreeable a manner. In 
compliance with your request, I have drawn on you for a hundred pounds 
in favor of Mr. Samuel Williams of London. The supply came oppor- 
tunely. I am on the point of leaving Paris for Brussels, and where I 
shall go from thence is at present undetermined ; but I shall write to you 
from the Netherlands, should I make any stop there. 

I have been leading a " miscellaneous " kind of life at Paris, if I may 
use a literary phrase. I have been rather distracted by engagements, in 
spite of all my efforts to keep out of society. Anacreon Moore is living 
here, and has made me a gayer fellow than I could have wished ; but I 
found it impossible to resist the charm of his society. Paris is like an 


English -watering-place, with the advantage of the best kind of amuse, 
ments, and excellent society. 

I have scribbled at intervals, and have a mass of writings by me ; 
rather desultory, as must be the case when one is so much interrupted ; 
but I hope, in the fullness of time, to get them into some order. 

I write in extreme haste, having to pack up and make other prepara- 
tions for departure. 

With my best regards to Mrs. Murray and the rest of your family, I 
am, my dear sir, 

Very faithfully yours, 

Washington Irving. 

In this letter the author is " on the point of leaving 
Paris for Brussels ; " but a sudden change of purpose 
comes over him, and he determines to start for London 
at once, to be in time for the approaching coronation of 
George IV. ; hoping also to get something ready for the 
press by autumn. One of his last acts in Paris, is to 
read to Moore a portion of the manuscrij)t of " Buck- 
thorne and his Friends," originally designed for " Brace- 
bridge Hall," his next work, but forming part of the con- 
tents of " The Tales of a Traveller " which succeeded it. 
He had already read a portion of it to the poet, " sitting 
on the grass in the walk up the Eocher." 

July 9th. — Moore has the following : Irving came to breakfast for the 
purpose of taking leave (being about to set off for England), and of read- 
ing to me some more of his new work ; some of it much livelier than the 
; he read. He has given the description of the booksellers' dinner so 
ctly like what 1 told him of one of the Longmans (the carving partner, 


the partner to laugh at the popular author's jokes, the twelve edition 
writers treated with claret, etc.), that I very much fear my friends in 
Paternoster Row will know themselves in the picture. 

Subsequently, he affords the uuthor an opportunity to 
improve the picture by personal observation, a part of 
his record of May 22, 1822, in London being: "Intro- 
duced Irving to the Longmans, and dined with him 

It is no disparagement of the poet, however, to say, 
as has been said by a critical authority, that the picture 
" owed everything to Irving's handling." 

It must have been about this time, also, that Mr. Irving 
read to our distinguished historian George Bancroft, 
then fresh from two years' study at Gottingen, a portion 
of the work he was preparing for the press. " During a 
summer in Paris," says that gentleman in his commemo- 
rative remarks before the New York Historical Society, 
"I formed with him that relation of friendly intimacy, 
which grew in strength to the last. Time has in a meas- 
ure effaced the relative difference in our years, but then 

he was almost twice as old as I One evening, 

after we had been many hours together, he took me to 
his room, and read to me what he had written at one 

sitting I remember it to this day : it was his 

'St. Mark's Eve,' from the words, 'I am now alone in my 
chamber,' to the end." 

The last glimpse we have in Moore's Diary, of Irving 
at Paris, is the following : — 


July 10/h. — Went in to dine at Lord Holland's. Company, Lord John, 

Fnznkcrly, Irving, Allen Kenney and Irving set off for 

I land to-morrow. 

The poet does not mention what I have heard Mr. Ir- 
ving speak of as an impressive recollection of the occa- 
sion, that Talma came in after dinner with the news of 
the death of Napoleon. 

The next day he set off for England, accompanied by 
Kenney, who by the way, was the personage alluded to 
in his "Life of Goldsmith," as the author whom he had 
seen with his back to a tree and his foot to a stone, try- 
ing to bother out a scene in a farce which he could not 
manage to his satisfaction. 



R. IRVING arrived in London the day before 
the coronation, and the next morning got a 
stand on the outside of Westminster Abbey, 
with Newton and Leslie, to see the procession pass. The 
following day he called on Scott, who congratulated him 
in his hearty manner on his success, and asked him if he 
had seen the coronation. He told him he had seen the 
procession on the outside. "O you should have been 
inside." " Why I only came over the day before, and I 
did not know how to manage it." " Hut, man," said 
Scott, "you should have told them who you were, and 
you would have got in anywhere." At parting, Scott 
expressed his regret that he would not probably see any- 
thing more of him in London, as he was engaged up to the 



Mr. Irving had not meditated any stay in London, but 
was kept there some time in a fruitless attempt to bring 
upon the stage a petite comedy of John Howard Payne, 
entitled "The Borrower," which he had sent him from 
Paris. The circumstances of Payne were such as to call 
for prompt action in the matter, and as England was not 
open to him by reason of his debts, he had availed him- 
self of Mr. Irving's kindness to send him the manuscript. 
He wrote, July 14, apprising him of its transmission, 
but the letter would seem not to have taken a very direct 
course, and to have kept Mr. Irving in London waiting 
its receipt some time after he had hoped to have joined 
his sister in .Birmingham. Payne laments, in a letter 
of August 12, that his kind dispositions towards him 
should have been the source of any derangement of his 

In a letter to Peter, dated London, September 6, he 
says : — 

I have a variety of writings in hand, some I think superior to what I 
have already published ; my only anxiety is to get them into shape and 

I have fagged hard to get another work under way, as I felt that a 
great deal depended upon it. both as to reputation and profit. I feel my 
system a little affected now and then by these sedentary fits to which, 
until two or three years past, I have not been accustomed. When I get 
my present manuscript finished and off of hands, I think I will give my- 
self holiday. 

Mr. Irving brought with him to London the manu- 


script of the chief part of " Bracebridge Hall," in the 
rough, intending or hoping to make arrangements for its 
publication in the autumn. On reading to Leslie " Buck- 
thorne," the part of his "writings in hand" which he had 
in view in the letter to Peter, just quoted, as in his judg- 
ment "superior to what" he had "already published," 
the artist suggested that he should retain that as the 
groundwork of a novel, and substitute something else. 
He accordingly threw it by, and replaced it with the 
" Student of Salamanca ; " an ill-judged change, as he 
afterwards regarded it, but he was prone to yield too 
readily to the suggestions of others. 

It was about the 9th of September, that Mr. Irving and 
Leslie started on the excursion to Birmingham, of which 
the latter speaks in the extract given below. Irving had 
been previously suggesting to Leslie for his pencil, the 
subject of Shakespeare brought up for deer stealing, 
having a picture in his own mind, which the artist, after 
repeated efforts, could not make out. He caught at the 
idea at first, however, and was in pursuit of materials, 
when they started off together, intending to bring up at 
the residence of Mr. Van Wart, Irving's brother-in-law. 

In the account of the expedition which follows, Leslie 
touches upon the origin of " The Stout Gentleman," the 
gem of " Bracebridge Hall." I transcribe from his Au- 

Towards the close of the summer of 1821, I made a delightful exciu> 
sion with Washington Irving to Birmingham, and thence into Derby- 


shire. We mounted the top of one of the Oxford coaches at three o'clock 
in the afternoon, intending only to go as far as Henley that night ; but 
the evening was so fine, and the fields filled with laborers gathering in 
the corn by the light of a full moon, presented so animated an appear- 
i ace, that although we had not dined, we determined to proceed to Ox- 
1 . which we reached about eleven o'clock, and then sat down to a hot 

The next day it rained unceasingly, and we were confined to the inn, 
like the nervous traveller whom Irving has described as spending a day 
in endeavoring to penetrate the mystery of " the stout gentleman." This 
wet Sunday at Oxford did in fact suggest to him that capital story, if 
story it can be called. That next morning, as we mounted the coach, 1 
said something about a stout gentleman who had come from London with 
us the day before, and Irving remarked that "The Stout Gentleman" 
would not be a bad title for a tale; as soon as the coach stopped, he be- 
gan writing with his pencil, and went on at every like opportunity. We 
visited Stratford-on-Avon, strolled about Charlecot Park and other places 
in the neighborhood, and while I was sketching, Irving, mounted on a 
stile or seated on a stone, was busily engaged with "The Stout Gentle- 
man." He wrote with the greatest rapidity, often laughing to himself, 
and from time to time reading the manuscript to me. We loitered some 
days in this classic neighborhood, visiting Warwick and Kenilworth ; and 
by the time we arrived at Birmingham, the outline of " The Stout Gen- 
tleman " was completed. The amusing account of " The Modern Knights 
Errant," he added at Birmingham, and the inimitable picture of the inn- 
yard on a rainy day, was taken from an inn where we were afterwards 
quartered at Derby. 

If I may venture to add anything to this delightful 
sketch by Leslie, which harmonizes with all that Mr. 
Irving has told me relative to the composition of that 
story, one of the few things he had written, of which 
from the first, as I have heard him say, he had never 


doubted, it is that he gave the concluding touch to it, 
sitting on a grave-stone in Lillington church-yard close 
by Leamington, while Leslie was sketching a view of 
Warwick castle, which the yard commanded. 

Another anecdote rises to my memory, connected with 
that light and frolicsome specimen of his pen. 

I was once reading aloud in his presence, a very flat- 
tering review of his works, which had been sent him by 
the critic in 1848, and smiled as I came to this sentence : 
" His most comical pieces have always a serious end in 
view." " You laugh," said he, with that air of whimsical 
significance so natural to him, " but it is true. I have 
kept that to myself hitherto, but that man has found me 
out. He has detected the moral of the ' Stout Gentle- 
man.' " 

Mr. Irving had intended but a short visit to the resi- 
dence of his sister at Birmingham, but was detained there 
nearly four months by illness, most of the time confined 
to the house. 

I have been upwards of two months in England, [he writes to his 
brother Ebenezer, September 28], I came over in hopes of getting some 
manuscript ready for the press this autumn, but ever since my arrival in 
England I have been so much out of health as to prevent my doing any- 
thing of consequence with my pen. I have been troubled with bilious 
attacks, to which I had never before been subject. It is the consequence 
of being too much within doors, and not taking exercise enough. I am 
now dieting myself and taking medicine, and I trust I shall, with a little 
care and attention, get myself in fine order again. I am very anxious to 
get something into print, but find it next to impossible, in my present 


state of health, to do anything material. Murray is also extremely desir- 
ous ; and indeed the success of my former writings would insure a run to 

anything 1 should now bring forward 

You have wished for an additional number of the " Sketch Book," but 
I have not been able to prepare one, being occupied with other writings. 
If you could clear oil the stock of odd numbers that remain, even though 
it should be at considerable sacrifice, I wish you would do it. We could 
then publish a complete and corrected edition in two volumes. 

The following letter to Leslie is written eleven days 
later from his sister's house, which he designates with 
characteristic playfulness, Edgbaston Castle, as he had 
styled her husband, Van Wart, on a former occasion, 
Baron Von Tromp, and his residence the Castle of the 
Von Tromps. 

Edgbaston Castle, October 9, 1821. 
Mv dear Leslie : — 

I have been looking for a letter from you every day. Why don't you 
drop me a line ? It would be particularly cheering just now. I have not 
been out of the house since you left here ; having been much indisposed by 
a cold, I am at the mercy of every breath of air that blows. I have had 
pains in my head, my face swollen, and yesterday passed the greater part 
of the day in bed, which is a very extraordinary thing for me. To-day I 
feel better ; but I am sadly out of order ; and what especially annoys me 
is, that I see day after day and week after week passing away without 

being able to do anything Have you begun any new picture 

yet, or have you any immediately in contemplation ? I received a letter 
from Newton, which I presume was forwarded by your direction. Why 
did you not open it ? It was dated the loth September. He had arrived 
but two or three days ; had sailed up the Seine from Havre to Rouen 
with my brother in the steamboat. He had dined with Moore, had passed 
a day in the Louvre, where he met Wilkie, and strolled the gallery with 


him. He speaks in raptures of the Louvre. He says it strikes him in 
quite a different way from what it did when he was there before. He 
intended to go to work a day or two afterwards, and expected to pass the 
greater part of his time there. 

Have you seen Murray ? when you see him you need not say where I 
am. I want the quiet, and not to be bothered in any way. Tell him I 
am in a country doctor's hands at Edgbaston somewhere in Warwick- 
shire. I think that will puzzle any one, as Edgbaston has been built 
only within a year or two. Get me all the pleasant news you can, and 
then sit down in the evening and scribble a letter without minding points 
or fine terms. My sister is very anxious to hear of you. You have quite 
won her heart, not so much by your merits as by your attention to the 
children. By the way, the little girls have become very fond of the pen- 
cil since you were here, and are continually taking their dolls' likenesses. 

Ever yours, 

W. I. 

In a postscript, dated the 17th, of Newton's letter here 
alluded to, the artist mentions his dining with Moore the 
day preceding, and in the body of the letter he gives this 
account of his introduction to La Butte : — 

I was presented last night at La Butte in a most characteristic manner. 
As Mr. Moore leaves town in a day or two, Mr. Story thought no time 
should be lost to introduce me, so set off for that purpose after dark and 
in the rain, which, as you know the place, will of itself give you an idea 
of the enterprise. I, of course, was ignorant of the situation, or I should 
have opposed it, as it was undertaken on my account. As it was, figure 
to yourself Mrs. Story equipped with an old gentleman's shoes (who sat 
in a carriage the while), and me with a lanthom and umbrella, slipping 
about, drabbled, and sometimes lost in those mazes of which I have only 
still a sort of nightmare recollection. I was extremely mortified at being 
the cause of so much disaster, but they did not seem to think it so much 
vol. i. — 25 


out of the way, and as we came off happily, I was on the whole glad of 
the oddity of the adventure. This and some other little traits amused me 
extremely, as corresponding with the idea you had given ine of this 

October 22, Leslie writes him : — 

Powell and I commenced housekeeping a week ago. It is probable that 
nothing will more i stonish you on your return than the metamorphosis 
at Buckingham Place. Not to speak of window curtains, a piano-forte, 
small knives and plates at breakfast, you will be surprised to find an 
academy established on the principle of mutual education in various 
branches of learning and the fine arts. During breakfast, Powell gives 
me a lesson in French. At five we both study carving. After tea I teach 
him to draw the figures, and at odd times he instructs himself in German 
and the piano-forte, and once a week he unfolds to me the mysteries of 
political economy according to Cobbett. Instruction is even extended 
beyond our walls, as far indeed as Sloane Street, where Powell delivers a 
weekly lecture on perspective. In this way we pass the time ; and I am 
quite sure that if I get through the winter as I have passed the last week, 
and with you and Newton here, it will be the most agreeable one I shall 
have spent in London. I was glad to hear of Newton from you. I did 
not see his letter or I should have opened it. I am at present painting 
the portraits of two little girls, and making a drawing from the "Royal 
Poet," the incident of the dove flying into the window. Powell has 
promised to fill up the sheet. I must therefore bid you good-by. 

Powell fill3 up the sheet after this burlesque fashion : — 

I am beginning to be ashamed of the prejudices I had imbibed about 
Buckingham Place. All prejudices are hateful, and people ought to live 
in every spot they do not like, in order to ascertain whether their opinions 
are well or ill-founded. There are many charms about this place, the 
enjoyment of which I never contemplated. While I am now writing, in 


addition to the enjoyment of my tea and rolls, a sort of troubadour is 
warbling beneath my window, together with the partner of his bosom, 
and a little natural production between both, equally regardless of fame 
and weather, and seemingly smitten only by the love of half-pence ; the 
pleasure of getting which in this neighborhood, must, I suppose, like that 
of angling, be greatly increased by the rarity of the bite. Those things 
about us here, that to the common view appear disagreeable, tend to 
increase our happiness. The repose and quiet of our evening talk or 
studies is rendered still more so by its contrast with a matrimonial squab- 
ble in the street, or the undisguised acknowledgment of pain in the 
vociferations of a whipped urchin up the court. 

We are also much more pastoral here than you would imagine. 

We have a share in a cow, which makes its appearance twice a day in a 
blue and white cream-jug. We eat our own dinners, and generally have 
enough. Yesterday, to be sure, we came a little short, in consequence 01 
Leslie, who acts as maitre d'hotel, having ordered a sumptuous hash to 
be made from a cold shoulder of lamb, the meat of which had been pre- 
viously stripped from it with surgical dexterity by our host himself during 
the three preceding days. There have been a great many disputes in all 
ages about the real situation of Paradise. I have not, to be sure, read all 
the arguments upon the subject ; but if I were to go entirely by my own 
judgment, I should guess it to be somewhere near the comer of Cam- 
bridge Court, Fitzroy Square. 

Adieu, and increased health to you. 

Yours, etc., etc., etc. 

P. P. 

The following is the author's reply to Leslie, the ad- 
dress to his "friend Peter" being missing. 

Edgbaston, October 25, 1821. 
My deae Leslie : — 

I thank you a thousand times for your letter. I had intended to have 
answered your preceding one before, but I am not in mood or condition 


to write, and had nothing to say worth writing. I am still in the hands of 
the physician. I have taken draughts and pills enough to kill a horse, yet I 
can not determine whether 1 am not rather worse off than when I began. 

I cannot at this moment suggest anything for your Christmas piece. 
I do not know your general plan. Is it to be a daylight piece, or an even- 
ing round a hall fire ? Is there no news of Newton ? If I had thought he 
would remain so long at Paris, I would have written to him. I am glad 
to hear that you are so snugly fixed with friend Powell for the winter, 
though I should have been much better pleased to have heard that you 
were turned neck and heels into the street. Reconcile it to yourself as 
you may, I shall ever look upon your present residence as a most serious 
detriment to you ; and were you to lose six or even twelve months in look- 
ing for another, I should think you a gainer upon the whole. 

What prospects are there of the plates being finished for Knickerbocker 
and the "Sketch Book ?" When do you begin a large picture, and what 
subject do you attack first ? It is time you had something under way. 
I must leave a space to reply to friend Peter ; so farewell for the present. 

Yours, ever, 


Two days after the date of this letter, Mr. Irving re- 
ceived one from Ebenezer, informing him that his brother 
William was gradually growing weaker under a seated 
consumption. He died November 9, 1821. 

In alluding to the loss of this brother, whom he de- 
scribes as having been " a kind of father to them all," he 
speaks of him in a later letter as " a man full of worth 
and talents, beloved in private and honored in public 
life." Paulding has also recorded his appreciation of 
him as "a man of wit and genius." William died at the 
age of fifty-five. His disease was thought to have been 


hastened by over-anxiety in business. He bad been 
about retiring at the close of the war with a handsome 
fortune, when a cloud came over the commercial world, 
and though not involved in the embarrassments of his 
brothers, he found himself a serious sufferer from the 
times, and obliged to continue a life of exertion when his 
health required entire repose. 

About this time Mr. Irving received from Newton a 
letter, which gives the following tidings of Moore. 

Moore's affairs are settled, and he is coming to live in England ; he 
goes to France on Monday next ; he is sitting to me. He desires his best 
regards to you, and had he known you were in Birmingham would hava 
stopped there. 

Moore had come over incog, from Paris some three 
weeks before the date of this letter ; had settled his 
affairs; that is, the Bermuda difficulty, with the money 
arising from the sale to Murray of the "Memoirs of 
Byron," which the poet had given him in Italy some two 
years previous, to make what use of them he pleased, 
though with the understanding that they could not be 
published during his life. He was now about to return 
to Paris, where he remained nearly four months after 
Mr. Irving had gone up to London. He had passed 
through Birmingham twice during his incognito, without 
being aware of Mr. Irving's presence in that city. The 
last time was October 21, on his way from Ireland to 
London. His diary gives the following record for the 
next day. 


Octobt r 22.— Arrived in London at 7 incog Was preparing, as 

usual, to gneak nut in a hackney coach, when Rees arrived with the im- 
portant and joyful intelligence that the agent has accepted the £1,000, 
and that I am now a free man again. Walked boldly out into the sun- 
shine, and showed myself up St. James Street and Bond Street. 

Moore had returned to Paris on the 11th of November, 
and when he visited London again in April, he rescinded 
his bargain with Murray for the " Memoirs of Byron," 
making himself a debtor to the publisher for the two 
thousand guineas advanced, and leaving the manuscript 
in his hands as security for its repayment. These me- 
moirs, which were not destined to see the light, Mr. 
Irving had read while in Paris with Moore. 



*K. IKVING returned to London on the 26th 
of December, and four weeks thereafter trans- 
mitted across the Atlantic the first volume of 

"Bracebridge Hall," which he had hoped to have had 
ready for the press the preceding autumn, but which had 
been retarded by indisposition, depression, and the fact 
that when he had got it nearly complete he was in- 
duced, as has been before stated, to subtract from it a 
large portion, which would form the foundation of a 
work by itself, and task himself in the height of his ill- 
ness to supply its place. 

[To Ebenezer Irving. ] 

London, January 29, 1822. 

My dear Brother : — 

By the packet from Liverpool which brings this letter I forward you a 
parcel containing the first volume of "Bracebridge Hall, or the Humour 



i-t.s." a medley in two volumes. I had hoped to have sent both volumes, 
hut I have not been able to get the second volume ready in time for this 
opportunity, though I have tried until the last moment, You will re- 
ceive it, however, by the next opportunity, and very probably before you 
can have made the necessary arrangements for printing. At any rate, 
put the first volume to press immediately and publish it as soon as possi- 
ble, with or without the second volume. As it is not like a novel, but 
rather a connected scries of tales and essays, it is of no great importance 
that they should be published together; but it is of the greatest impor- 
tance that some part of the work should appear as early as possible, to give 
me some chance of securing copy-right. I shall have to put it to press 
here in a very short time, as the season is advancing, and my publisher is 
very impatient ; besides, the public has been expecting something from 
me for some time past, and it will not do to let expectation get too high. 
If the work is not got out, therefore, very soon in America, there will be 
a chance of an English copy getting out beforehand, and thus throwing 
me at the mercy of American publishers. Should the number of copies 
make any material difference in the time of getting out the work, you 
had better let the first edition be rather small ; and put another to press 
the moment I furnish you with proof-sheets of the English edition, in 
which there will doubtless be many alterations, as I have not had time to 
revise some parts of the work sufficiently, and am apt to make alterations 
to the last moment. 

The work had better be printed in duodecimo, and to save time in 
binding, let the volumes be put up in lettered covers like the "Sketch 
Book." The second edition can be got up in better style. The first vol- 
ume runs, as near as I can guess, between 340 and 350 pages of the Amer- 
ican edition of the "Sketch Book." The second volume will be about 
the same size. You can make your estimates accordingly. Put wht't 
price you think proper. I do not care about its being a very high one, 
I wish, expressly, Moses Thomas to have the preference over every other 
publisher. I impress this upon you, and beg you to attend to it as ear- 
nestly as if I had written three sheets full on the subject. Whatever mr " 
have been his embarrassments and consequent want of punctuality, he ' 


one who showed a disposition to serve me, and who did serve me in the 
time of my necessity, and I should despise myself could I for a moment 
forget it. Let him have the work on better terms than other publishers, 
and do not be deterred by the risk of loss. 

My health is still unrestored. This work has kept me from getting 
well, and my indisposition on the other hand has retarded the work. I 
have now been about five weeks in London, and have only once been out 
of doors, about a month since, and that made me worse. 

From what Mr. Irving has told me, I infer he must 
have left his sick chamber this " once " to confer with Mur- 
ray respecting the publication of " The Spy," the first of 
Cooper's novels which created his reputation and laid the 
foundation of his claim to enduring literary distinction. 
Wiley, his American publisher, had sent the printed 
volume to Murray, accompanied by a letter from Cooper, 
referring him to Mr. Irving for terms. Mr. Wiley at the 
same time wrote to Mr. Irving, apprising him of this pro- 
ceeding, and requesting him, should Murray decline to 
make such an offer for the work as in his opinion it 
might be worth, "to call on some other respectable 
house." Murray retained the work until Mr. Irving 
grew impatient for an answer, and then declined its 
publication, as he had formerly done in the case of the 
"Sketch Book." Meanwhile, it found its way to the 
English public through another channel. Mr. Irving re- 
ported its fate in a letter to Wiley not in my possession, 
if it be still in existence, and it is that communication 
which led to this direct epistle from Cooper, prior to his 


adoption, us will be seen from the signature, of his mid- 
dle name of Fenimore. 

Dear Sir : — 

The friendly interest you have taken in the success of my books, de- 
mand- of me a direct acknowledgment of your kindness. I was not very 
Banguine as to the success of the "Spy" in England, nor was I at all sur- 
(] when I learnt that the book was referred to Mr. Gifford, that Mr. 
Murray declined publishing it. If the latter is made sensible of the evil 
guidance that he has been subjected to, one good purpose, at least, will 
follow the success which you are so good as to communicate. Mr. Ben- 
jamin W. Coles, of this city, is now in Europe, and has been so kind as 
to take charge of my new work, " The Pioneers; " I should be pleased to 
have him aided by your experience. If you meet he will probably call on 
you and you will find him a gentleman of acquirements, and modest, 
pleasing manners. 

By a Mr. Ilalleck, the admirable Croaker, I have sent to Mr. Coles the 
first hundred pages of the work in print. I shall take proper caution to 
secure the copy-right in both countries, if it can be done. 

I desire, sir, to thank you again for your attention to my interests, and 
the advice for my future government. 

Very respectfully, 

Your servant, 
New York, July 30, 1822. JAMES COOFEE. 

Fitz-Greene Halleck, mentioned above, who shared 
with Joseph Rodman Drake the authorship of the satiri- 
cal effusions first published iu the New York Evening 
Post, under the signature of " Croaker and Croaker and 
Co.," was soon destined to a wider and more exalted ce- 
lebrity in the front rank of American poets. Drake, 
whose genius gave promise of a brilliant career, died at 


the early age of twenty-five, leaving behind him in manu- 
script that exquisite creation of fancy, " The Culprit 

Mr. Irving was in Germany when this letter of Cooper 
was received, and did not return to London for some 
time, so that he had no opportunity of conferring with 
Murray respecting the " Pioneers," of which he [Murray] 
became the publisher. 

The second volume of "Bracebridge Hall" was de- 
spatched to New York the last of February, a month 
after the other, but reached its destination within eight 
days of it, the first having a passage of sixty days. They 
were received in April, and hurried through the press by 
Ebenezer for fear of being anticipated by the copy on 
the English side. The work was printed in the style of 
the " Sketch Book," and for want of time only a thou- 
sand copies were printed in the first edition ; " it would 
have been more profitable," says Ebenezer, "to have 
made the edition larger, but it would not do to venture 
on it." It appeared May 21, 1822. Soon after Mr. Ir- 
ving had sent the second volume to America, and thus 
given it a fair start, he proceeded to make a contract with 
Murray for its publication in England. 

When the author came up from Birmingham to London 
with the MS. of " Bracebridge Hall," Colbum called on 
him, introduced by Campbell the poet, and offered him a 
thousand guineas for it, but he would not entertain a 
proposition to leave Murray. The latter had been very 


anxious to have something from him as the season was 
advancing, and when Mr. Irving went to him, at the in- 
etance of his friends, wlio probably knew his too easy 
ac [uiescence in any sum that might be offered, he was 
induced to name his own price, which was fifteen hundred 
guineas. This staggered Murray, who, after a moment's 
hesitation, began : " If you had said a thousand guineas ; " 
" You shall have it for a thousand guineas," said Mr. Ir- 
ving, breaking in. Murray was taken aback by this. He 
had probably been prepared to divide the difference, and 
go the length of twelve hundred and fifty guineas. When 
he found Mr. Irving respond so promptly to the lesser 
sum, he sat down at once, and drew out the notes for the 
amount, and gave them to him, although he did not re- 
ceive the manuscript until nearly two weeks afterwards. 
He also threw in a handsome donation of books, which 
the author sent to his sister at Birmingham. 

After all, as his brother Peter writes him on hearing 
of the bargain with Murray, " a thousand guineas has a 
golden sound." 

Mr. Irving sent the last proof of " Bracebridge Hall " 
to press in London, May 11, 1822. He had made great 
alterations and additions as the work was printing, so 
that the first English edition differed considerably from 
the first American one. The two editions were published 
within two days of each other, the American appearing 
on the 21st, and the English on the 23d of May. 

Some time before the appearance of " Bracebridge 


Hall" in London, Mr. Irving found himself getting the 
better of the tormenting malady in his ankles, which had 
troubled him at Birmingham, and confined him to the 
house since his arrival in London. He had been at a 
grievous expense with doctors to but little purpose, and 
he finally determined to undertake his own cure ; " for 
I fancy," he says, " I understand the complaint as well 
as any of them." His first step was to go out and take 
exercise every day. Finding his health improving under 
this regimen, he began to pay visits, and was soon in a 
constant hurry of engagements, in the midst of which 
Moore came over to London from Paris for a brief 
sojourn, arriving April 16, and leaving May 7. During 
this interval his diary, for Mr. Irving kept none at this 
period, gives us a few glimpses of the author, of which I 
select the following : — 

May 2d. — Went with Irving to breakfast at Holland House. The Duke 
of Bedford came in after breakfast, fresh from his duel with the Duke of 

May 5th. — Irving walked about with me ; called together at Lady 
Blessington's, who is growing very absurd. "I have felt very melan- 
choly and ill all this day," she said. " Why is that ? " I asked. " Don't 
you know?" "No." "It is the anniversary of my poor Napoleon's 

In the following extract from a letter to Brevoort, dated 
London, June 11, we find mention of John Kandolph and 
Mrs. Siddons. 


John Randolph is here, and has attracted much attention. He has 
been Bought after by people of the first distinction. I have met him re- 
peat nil v in company, and his eccentricity of appearance and manner 
mak.s him the more current and interesting ; for in high life here, they 
are always eager after anything strange and peculiar. There is a vast 
deal, too, of the old school in Randolph's manner, the turn of his 
thoughts, and the style of his conversation, which seems to please very 

Among other interesting acquaintances that I have made is Mrs. Sid- 
dons. She is now near seventy, and yet a magnificent looking woman. 
It is surprising how little time has been able to impair the dignity of her 
carriage, or the noble expression of her countenance. I heard her read 
the part of Constance at her own house one evening, and I think it the 
greatest dramatic treat I have had for a long time past. 

Four days after the date of this letter, Mr. Irving re- 
ceived an invitation from Lady Spencer to dine with her 
at "Wimbledon, one of the country-seats of Lord Spencer, 
about twelve miles from London. This was the lady 
whose Christmas invitation he had not been able to 
accept. At this dinner he first met the poet Kogers, who 
had lately returned from the continent; and who, though 
a stranger, received him with the hearty cordiality of an 
old friend. Irving at this time was overrun with invita- 
tions from many of whom he knew nothing. Rogers cau- 
tioned him to be on his guard, or the commonplace would 
hunt him down. " Show me your list of invitations," 
said he, "and let me give you a hint or two. This ac- 
cept," to one; "that decline," to another; to a third, 
" this man avoid by all means ; O ! he's a direful bore." 


Mr. Irving was quite amused at this worldly advice of the 
poet, and especially at the decided emphasis of the last 
sentence. Who the individual was, so impressively com- 
plimented, he did not specify when the anecdote fell from 

I have heard Mr. Irving relate the following curious 
incident, as occurring at Wimbledon, where it appears he 
passed the night. He was reading, as was his custom 
through life, in bed. His door suddenly opened cau- 
tiously, and in stalked a grim apparition in the shape of 
a man with a lantern, who quietly walked up to his light, 
and with some muttered sentence which escaped him, ex- 
tinguished it, and then walked out, shutting the door 
after him, and leaving Geoffrey in a maze at the myste- 
rious intrusion. Lady Spencer laughed heartily when he 
mentioned the incident the next morning at breakfast. 
"O," said she, "that was my fireman; we once lost a 
country-seat by fire, and ever since he has had orders to 
walk the corridors at night, and when he detects a light 
from under the door, to extinguish it." 

The next trace of him is June 21, when he is passing a 
few days at the country-seat of Mr. Thomas Hope, author 
of " Anastasius ; " from which he writes to his sister 
Catherine : — 

I am now writing from a country-seat in a beautiful part of the coun- 
try, where I am passing a few days. It is the residence of Mr. Thomas 
Hope, one of the richest and most extraordinary men in England, not 
more famous for his wealth and magnificence than for being the author 



of " Annstasius," a work of great merit and curious character. His wife, 
the Bon. Mrs. Hope, is one of the loveliest women in the kingdom, and 
one of the reigning deities of fashion. Their country-seat is furnished in 
a style of taste and magnificence of which I can give you no idea. With 
nil this, they are delightfully frank, simple, and unpretending in their 
manners, especially in their country retreat ; which is the true place to 
see English people to advantage. There are several persons on a visit 
here, besides myself, and time passes away very pleasantly. 

The following contribution to the Album at Deep 
Dene, the country-seat above mentioned, I take from the 
" Cornhill Magazine " of May, 1860, in which it appeared 
after Mr. Irving's death. 

June 24, 1822. 

Thou record of the votive throng 
That fondly seek this fairy shrine, 

And pay the tribute of a song 
Where worth and loveliness combine — 

What boots that I, a vagrant wight 
From clime to clime still wandering on, 

Upon thy friendly page should write — 
Who'll think of me when I am gone ? 

Go plough the wave, and sow the sand; 

Throw seed to every wind that blows ; 
Along the highway strew thy hand 

And fatten on the crop that grows. 


For even thus the man that roams 

On heedless hearts his feeling spends; 
Strange tenant of a thousand homes, 

And friendless, with ten thousand friends. 

Yet here for once I'll leave a trace, 

To ask in aftertimes a thought ; 
To say that here a resting-place 

My wayworn heart has fondly sought. 

So the poor pilgrim heedless strays, 

Unmoved, through many a region fair ; 
But at some shrine his tribute pays, 

To tell that he has worshipped there. 

Washington Irvtng. 

June 30, lie writes to Brevoort from London : — 

Rogers, the poet, returned not long since from the continent, and I 
breakfast occasionally with him, and meet Crabbe and others of his liter- 
ary friends. He has one of the completest and most elegant little bache- 
lor establishments that I have ever seen. It is as neat, and elegant, and 
finished, and small, as his own principal poem. 

Matthews, the comedian, is coming out to make a tour in America, 
which I have no doubt will be a successful one. His powers of entertain- 
ment are wonderful. By his talents at imitation, he in a manner raises 
the dead and makes them walk and talk for your amusement ; for his 
specimens of Tate Wilkinson, Macklin, Wilkes, etc., etc., are among the 
best of his imitations. He is a very correct, gentlemanlike man in private 
life, and at times the life of a dinner-table by his specimens of characters 
of the day. I shall give him letters to America, and among others to 

When Mr. Irving returned from Deep Dene to his 
vol. i.— 26 


lodgings in London, he found his table covered with in- 
vitations which had accumulated during his absence. 

I have been leading a sad life lately [he writes to his brother Peter, 
June 30], burning the candle at both ends, and seeing the fashionable 
world through one of its seasons. The success of my writings gave me 
an opportunity, and I thought it worth while to embrace it if it were only 
for curiosity's sake. I have therefore been tossed about "hither and 
thither and whither I would not ;" have been at the levee and the draw- 
ing-room, been at routs, and balls, and dinners, and country-seats ; been 
hand-and-glove with nobility and mobility, until, like Trim, I have satis- 
fy.! the sentiment, and am now preparing to make my escape from all 
this splendid confusion. 

He was intending to make the best of his way to AU- 
la-Chapellc, for the benefit of the baths and waters. 



HE restless life which the author had been 
leading in London, had thrown him back in 
his recovery, and when he started for Aix-la- 
Chapelle, he was still rather lame from the lingerings of 
his complaint. From this ancient city, which he reached 
on the 17th of July, and where he spent some weeks, he 
writes to his sister, Mrs. Van "Wart : — 

This is the birthplace, and was once the seat of empire of Charlemagne, 
that monarch so renowned in history and song. His tomb is in the ca- 
thedral, and is only marked by a broad slab of black marble, on which is 
the inscription, Carolo Magno. The cathedral is an extremely ancient, 
venerable-looking pile. Every night I hear the hours chimed on its bells ; 
and the midnight hours announced by the watchman from its tower. 
The Germans are full of old customs and usages, which are obsolete in 
other parts of the world. At eleven, twelve, and one o'clock, the watch- 
man on the tower of the cathedral, when the clock strikes, blows as many 
blasts of a horn as there are strokes of the clock ; and the sound of these 
warning notes of time in the stillness of the night, has to me something 
extremely solemn. 



From this " little old ghost-ridden city," as he terms 
Aix-la-Chapelle in his notes, he ascended the Rhine to 
Wisbaden, and proceeded thence to Mayence, where he 
remained about three weeks. 

It was from the Hotel de Darmstadt at Mayence, that 
the introduction to the " Tales of a Traveller " is dated. 
The author was thrown back in his recovery after his 
arrival at Mayence, and was detained there some time by 
indisposition, as stated in that introduction, nor was Ka- 
trina, the pretty daughter of mine host, under whose 
tuition he conjugated ich liebe, a fiction, but the tales 
really were written partly in Paris, and partly in Eng- 
land. As, however, he tells Peter, he was in hopes to 
have something under way for spring publication, it is 
probable he attempted some scribbling under the roof of 
the jolly publican, John Ardnot, from which the fancy 
took him to date his lucubrations from that hotel. From 
Mayence, which he left on the 13th of September, he pro- 
ceeded to Frankfort, and thence through Darmstadt to 

L n* 

With all my ailments and my lameness [he writes to a sister from this 
place], I never have enjoyed travelling more than through these lovely 
countries. I do not know whether it is the peculiar fineness of the sea- 
son, or the general character of the climate, but I never was more sensi- 
ble to the delicious effect of atmosphere : perhaps my very malady has 
made me more susceptible to influences of the kind. I feel a kind of in- 
toxication of the heart, as I draw in the pure air of the mountains; and 
the clear, transparent atmosphere, the steady, serene, golden sunshine, 
seems to enter into my very soul. 


Awaiting his arrival at Heidelberg, which he had ex- 
pected to reach much earlier, when he set out on his 
tour, Mr. Irving found the following letter : — 

[From Tliomas Moore.} 

August 5, 1822. 

My dear Iryixg : — 

I have been so deplorably lazy about writing to you, that I fear I am 
now too late to catch you at Heidelberg, and lest it should be the fate of 
my letter to die in the Dead Letter office of a German town ("la plus 
morte mort " as Montaigne calls it, that I can imagine), I will only ven- 
ture two or three hasty lines, to tell you that we are all quite well, and 
full of delight at the idea of seeing you here in autumn. I have taken up 
a subject for a poem since I came to Passy, and nearly finished it — only 
about twelve or thirteen hundred lines in all, which I shall publish singly. 
Bessy has been for some weeks (with that "John Bull," as Tom now calls 
himself) at Montmorenci, drinking the waters. I will just give you an ex- 
tract from a letter I received from her yesterday, because I think it is 
about as good criticism as is to be had (for love at least, whatever there 
may be for money), nowadays. " I have just finished • Bracebridge Hall,' 
and am more than ever delighted with the author. How often he touches 
the heart ! at least mine." I think you will agree with me that the mod- 
esty of this last limitation is such as critics would do well to imitate 
oftener. " Parlez pour vous " would dispel the illusions of the plurality 

I want you very much here, and often express my wants aloud, though 
I have not Mrs. Story to give her gentle echo to them. She complains in 
her last letter to Bessy, that she has no longer any traces of your exist- 
ence in the world. I could scribble a good deal more, now I have begun, 
but having the fear of that Epistolary Death at Heidelberg before my 
eyes, I must stop short, and am, my dear Irving, 

Ever faithfully yours, 

Thomas Moore. 


At the receipt of this letter, Mr. Irving was undeter- 
mined whether to return to Paris, or to strike into the 
interior of Germany and pass his winter in Dresden. He 
left Heidelberg on the 30th of September, with his mind 
made up to the latter course, though at Strasburg as he 
records, he had to resist " several strong tugs of feeling 
that pulled him towards Paris." He reached Ulm on 
the 5th of October, continued along the Danube the 
next day to visit the field of Blenheim, the famous battle- 
ground, and the day following arrived at Munich, the 
capital of Bavaria, where " a grand fete on the king's 
birthday " gave him a fine opportunity of seeing both the 
court and the populace. 

I had a good view also [he writes], of Eugene Beauharnois, the stepson 
of Bonaparte. He married a daughter of the King of Bavaria, and is 
one of the most fortunate of Bonaparte's relatives and followers ; for he 
has ever maintained a character for honor and bravery, and now lives in 
opulence and ease, with a superb palace, a charming wife and family, 
beloved by his father-in-law, the old king, and esteemed by the public. 

On the 17th of October, he left Munich for Salzburg, 
which he pronounces " one of the most romantic places, 
as to its situation and scenery he had ever beheld." 
Here he remained two or three days and then resumed 
his journey for Vienna, where he was occupied "in look- 
ing about for nearly a month." In a letter to his sister 
from this city, dated November 10, he gives this glimpse 
of the young Napoleon. 


The Emperor is at present in Italy, attending the Congress at Verona. 
I have seen the other members of the Imperial family several times at the 
theatre, where they appear in the Imperial box without any show, nor 
any sensation on the part of the audience, as it seems quite a common 
occurrence. The most interesting member of the family, however, was 
the young Napoleon, son of poor Boney. His mother, now called the 
archduchess Marie Louise, was, as you may recollect, daughter of the 
Emperor of Austria. She is now at Verona. The young Napoleon, or 
the Duke of Reiehstadt, as he is called, is a very fine boy, full of life and 
spirit, of most engaging manners and appearance, and universally popu- 
lar. He has something of Bonaparte in the shape of his head and the 
lower part of his countenance ; his eyes are like his mother's. I have 
seen him once in an open carriage, with his tutor. Every one took off 
his hat as the little fellow passed. I have since seen him at the theatre, 
where he appeared to enjoy the play with boyish delight ; laughing out 
loud, and continually turning to speak to his more phlegmatic uncles, 
the other young princes. 



lEFORE lie left Vienna, the author visited the 
Imperial library, where he saw the MSS. of 
Tasso's " Jerusalem." He has this note on the 
subject: "I thought I saw a similarity between his 
handwriting and Lord Byron's ; many alterations in 
MSS." He left Vienna on the 18th of November, and 
passing a few days at Prague, on the way, arrived at 
Dresden on the 28th. 

In this little capital, where his stay was prolonged 
through several months, the author was destined to find 
a delightful residence. 

He met an old acquaintance here in Morier, the Brit- 
ish minister, whom he had known as Charge at Washing- 
ton, in 1811, and through him he soon found himself 
mingling familiarly with the diplomatic corps, who 
formed a sort of social brotherhood. Here he also met 
for the first time, an English family by the name of 



Foster, with whom he became extremely intimate and to 
whom allusion is made in the notes and letters which are 
to follow. Mrs. Foster had been for some time residing 
in Dresden for the education of her children, two daugh- 
ters now grown up, and two younger sons. Her house 
soon became a home to him. One of the daughters, in 
a letter addressed to him long years afterwards, says of 
this period : " You formed a part of our daily life." I 
transcribe a letter from another daughter, which gives 
her impression of his character, as exhibited at this 
period of familiar intercourse. The letter, it will be 
seen, bears date after the author's death, and was ad- 
dressed to me in reply to an application for his corre- 
spondence with the family. 

Thornhaugh Rectory, Wansford, 

Northamptonshire, March 10, 1860. 


Dear Sir 

I have sent a few extracts from Mr. Irving's letters that I thought were 
characteristic, or might be generally interesting, but only a few, for he 
expressed so strong a desire that his correspondence should be strictly 
private, that I have only chosen those that I think he would not have dis- 
liked being made public, or I should feel as if I had violated the sacred 
confidence of a friendship so valued. The passages I have sent give an 
idea of his life in Dresden. Sought after by all in the best society, and 
mingling much in the gay life of a foreign city, and a court where the 
royal family were themselves sufficiently intelleetu;# to appreciate genius; 
but really intimate with ourselves only, and to such a degree that it gives 
me a right to judge of some points in his character. He was thoroughly 
a gentleman, not merely externally in manners and look, but to the inner- 
most fibres and core of his heart. Sweet-tempered, gentle, fastidious, 


sensitive, and gifted with the warmest affections, the most delightful and 
invariably interesting companion, gay and full of humor, even in spite of 
occasional fits of melancholy, which he was however seldom subject to 
i with those he liked— a gift of conversation that flowed like a full 
river in sunshine, bright, easy, and abundant. He stayed at Dresden 
till we left, and then accompanied us on our return home, even into the 
packet-boat, and left us in the channel. That was not, happily, our 
last parting; he visited us in England, and I saw a good deal of him in 
I., ml 11 afterwards; but the farewell in that open boat, with the looks of 
regret on all sides, seemed the real farewell, and left the deepest impres- 
sion. The picture he received in Paris was the little miniature you 
mention. I am, dear sir, 

Yours very truly, 

Emily Fuller. 

You are quite welcome to make any use of my letter that you please. 
It is a very faint testimony of a real friendship. 

The "picture" referred to at the close of this tribute 
to the departed, was a miniature copy of the " Head of 
Herodias," painted by Miss Foster, from the Dresden 
gallery, and which has been for years suspended from the 
walls of Sunnyside. " I treasure it," says the author in a 
letter to her a few years before his death, " as a precious 
memorial of those pleasant days." It was received by 
Mr. Irving at Paris four or five months after his parting 
with the family on their return to England in July, 1823. 
One of the records of his diary at Paris, under date of 
December 15, 1823, is as follows : — 

Return home, and find parcel from Mrs. Foster, with German books, 
and miniature painted by Emily. 


The first letter I find from Dresden was addressed to 
Leslie a few days after his arrival. In it he says : — 

By dint of bathing and a little attention to diet, 1 have conquered the 
malady that so long rendered me almost a cripple ; and the exercise, 
change of air, and refreshment of spirit incident to travelling, have oper- 
ated most favorably on my general health. Since I wrote to Newton, I 
have been among the Salzburg mountains; then by the way of Lintz to 
Vienna, where I remained nearly a month; then through part of Moravia 
and Bohemia, stopping a few days at the fine old city of Prague, to this 
place, where I mean to winter. How I should have liked to have you as 
a travelling companion throughout my summer's tour. You would have 
found continual exercise for the pencil, and objects of gratification and 
improvement in the noble galleries that abound in the principal German 
cities. I shall now take a master and go to work to study German. If I 
can get my pen to work, so much the better ; but it has been so long idle 

that I fear it will take some time to get it in a working mood 

How often have I thought of you, in exploring some of these old German 
towns, where you might have a wing of a deserted palace almost for noth- 
ing. Such glorious painting-rooms, that might be blocked up or pulled 
to pieces at your humor ! The living, in fact, is wonderfully cheap in 
many of the finest cities of Germany. In Dresden, for example, I have a 
very neat, comfortable, and prettily furnished apartment on the first floor 
of a hotel ; it consists of a cabinet with a bed in it, and a cheerful sitting- 
room that looks on the finest square. I am offered this apartment for the 
winter at the rate of thirty-six shillings a month. Would to Heaven that 
I could get such quarters in London for anything like the money. I shall 
probably remain here until the spring opens, as this is one of the pleas- 
antest winter residences, and peculiarly favorable for the study of the 
German language, which is here spoken in its purity. Which way I shall 
direct my wanderings when I leave this, I cannot say ; I find it is useless 
to project plans of tours, as I seldom follow them, but am apt to be driven 
completely out of my course by whim or circumstance. 


The letter concludes : — 

Farewell, my dear boy. 

Give my hearty remembrance to the " Childe," Father Luke, and all 
the rest of the fraternity, not forgetting my excellent and worthy friend, 
Peter PowelL 

The following letters, written after lie had been more 
than three months in Dresden, give some pleasant 
glimpses of his mode of life in that city. 

[To Mrs. Sarah Van Wart.~\ 

Dresden, March 7, 1823. 
My dear Sister : — 

My winter in Dresden has been extremely agreeable. I 

have become quite at home among the good people, and am invited to 
everything that is going on in the world of fashion and gayety. The old 
court has particularly pleased me from its stiff old-fashioned formali- 
ties, and buckram ceremonies. I have been treated uniformly with the 
most marked attention, by all the members of the royal family, and am 
in ^reat favor with the old queen. There is a singular mixture of state 
and familiarity in some of the court fetes. There have been, for instance, 
several court balls given by the royal family. At those given by the 
king the common people are admitted as spectators, and rows of seats are 
1 for them on each side of the great saloon in which the company 
dance. Here then you see the nobility and visitors of the court, in full 
court-dresses, dancing in the centre of the saloon, while on each side are 
long banks of burly faces wedged together, men, women, and children, 
nndgaaing, and courtesying as at a theatre. As the court dances are 
not the most dignified, one would think this opportunity of seeing 

royalty i • ould b? enough to destroy the illusion with which 

it is sun . There is one romping dance called "the Grandfather." 

something in the style of Sir Roger de Coverley, which generally winds up 


the balls, and of •which the princes and princesses are extremely fond. 
In this I have seen the courtiers of all ages capering up and down the 
saloon to the infinite amusement of the populace, and in conformity to 
the vagaries of the dance, I have been obliged to romp about with one of 

the princesses as if she had been a boarding-school girl 

I wish I could give you a good account of my literary labors, but I 
have nothing to report. I am merely seeing and hearing, and my mind 
seems in too crowded and confused a state to produce anything. I am 
getting very familiar with the German language; and there is a lady 
here who is so kind as to give me lessons every day in Italian [Mrs. Fos- 
ter], which language I had nearly forgotten, but which I am fast regain- 
ing. Another lady is superintending my French [Miss Emily Foster], 
so that if I am not acquiring ideas, I am at least acquiring a variety of 
modes of expressing them when they do come 

[To Peter Irving.] 

Dresden, March 10, 1823. 
My dear Brother : — 

What a time have I suffered to pass by without writing to you. I can 
give no excuse for it but the wretched and unsatisfactory one, of continual 
procrastination, and too much distraction and dissipation of mind ; but I 
know you to be indulgent in these cases, and not to consider a casual 
career of dissipation among the crying sins. I have been passing a very 
agreeable, a very idle, but I trust after all, a very profitable winter in 
Dresden ; for though I have done nothing with my pen, and have be?n 
tossed about on the stream of society, yet I console myself with the idea 
that I have lived into a great deal of amusing and characteristic infor- 
mation; which after all, is perhaps the best way of studying the world. 
I have been most hospitably received and even caressed in this little capi- 
tal, and have experienced nothing but the most marked kindness from 
the king downwards. My reception, indeed, at court has been peculiarly 
flattering, and every branch of the royal family has taken occasion to 
show me particular attention, whenever I made my appearance. I wish 


you were here with me to study this little court; it is just the thing that 
would delight you. It is one of the most formal and ceremonious in Eu- 
rope, keeping np all the old observances that have been laid aside in other 
courts. The king is an excellent old gentleman, between seventy and 
eighty, but a stanch stickler for the old school. He has two brothers, 
Prince Max and Prince Antoine, and the trio are such figures as you see 
in the prints of Frederick the Great. Prince Max is one of the most 
amiable old gentlemen I have ever met with; his countenance and man- 
nera peculiarly benevolent; he has two sons, Frederick and John (the for- 
mer will one day inherit the throne), and two daughters, the youngest of 
whom is the present Queen of Spain. Prince Antoine, the other brother 
of the king, is a brisk, lively little gentleman; very religious, but withal 
as great a hunter as Nimrod, and as fond of dancing as King David. He 
married a sister of the Emperor of Austria, an old lady that is a complete 
picture of the dames of the old school. Prince Antoine has always shown 
a great fancy for me, and I believe I owe much of my standing in the old 
gentleman's favor, from dancing French quadrilles. I have dined with 
the king, and been at a number of balls and soirees given by the different 
members of the royal family. As at these balls every one must be in uni- 
form or court dress, they are very showy. 

Among the other amusements of the winter, we have had a little at- 
tempt at private theatricals. These have been at the house of Mrs. Fos- 
ter, an English lady of rank, who has been residing here for a couple of 
years. She has two daughters, most accomplished and charming girls. 
They occupy part of a palace, and in a large saloon a little theatre was 
fitted up. the scenery being hired from a small theatre and the dresses 
from a masquerade warehouse. It was very prettily arranged, I assure 
you. We first tried Tom Thumb, which, however, went no further than 
a dressed rehearsal, in which I played the part of King Arthur, to Mrs. 
V si r'e Dollalolla; and the other parts were supported by some of the 
iish who were wintering in Dresden. There was then an attempt to 
up a little opera, altered from the French by Colonel Livius, a cousin 
of Mrs. Foster, and some such a character as 1 have described in Master 
Simon in my last work. The colonel, however, who is a green-room 


veteran, and has written for the London theatres, was so much of a mar- 
tinet in his managerial discipline, that the piece absolutely fell through 
from being too much managed. In the meantime a few of the col 
theatrical subjects conspired to play him a trick, and get up a piece wit k- 
out his knowledge. We pitched upon the little comedy of " Three Weeks 
after Marriage," which I altered and arranged so as to leave out two or 
three superfluous characters. I played the part of Sir Charles Racl 
Miss Foster, Lady Rackett; Miss Flora Foster, Dimity; Mrs. Foster, Mrs. 
Druggett; and a young officer by the name of Corkran, the part of Mr. 
Druggett. You cannot imagine the amusement this little theatrical plot 
furnished us. We rehearsed in Mrs. Foster's drawing-room, and as the 
whole was to be kept a profound secret, and as Mrs. Foster's drawing- 
room is a great place of resort, and as especially our dramatic sovereign, 
Colonel Livius, was almost an inmate of the family, we were in con- 
tinued risk of discovery, and had to gather together like a set of 
conspirators. We, however, carried our plot into execution more 
successfully than commonly falls to the lot of conspirators. The colonel 
had ordered a dress rehearsal of his little opera ; the scenery was all pre- 
pared, the theatre lighted up, a few amateurs admitted ; the colonel took 
his seat before the curtain, to direct the rehearsal. The curtain rose, and 
out walked Mr. and Mrs. Druggett in proper costume. The little colonel 
was perfectly astonished, and did not recover himself before the first act 
was finished; it was a perfect explosion to him. We afterwards per- 
formed the little comedy before a full audience of the English resident in 
Dresden, and of several of the nobility that understood English, and it 
went off with great spirit and success. We are now on the point of play- 
ing " The Wonder," which I have altered and shortened to suit the 
strength of the company, and to prune off objectionable parts. In this, 
I play the part of Don Felix, to Miss Foster's Violante. She plays charm- 
ingly; the part of Colonel Briton I have had to alter into a British captain 
of a man-of-war, to adapt it to the turn of the actor who is to play it, 
namely, Captain Morier, of the navy, brother of the British Minister. I 
have dwelt rather long on this subject because I know you relish matters 
of the kind. 


[To C. R. Leslie.] 

Dresden, March 15, 1823. 

I have just been seized with a fit of letter-writing, after having nearly 

1 1 how to use ray pen, so I take the earliest stage of the complaint 

ribble to you. 1 had hoped to receive a gratuitous letter from you 

1 this, hut you are one of those close codgers who never pay more 

than the law compels them. 

Eow often I have wished for you and Newton during the last eight or 
nine months, in the course of which I have been continually mingling in 
scenes full of character and picture. 

The place where 1 am now passing my time is a complete study. The 
court of this little kingdom of Saxony is, perhaps, the most ceremonious 
ami old-fashioned in Europe, and one finds here customs and observances 
in full vigor that have long since faded away in other courts. 

The king is a capital character himself, — a complete old gentleman of 
the ancient school, and very tenacious in keeping up the old style. He 
has treated me with the most marked kindness, and every member of the 
royal family has shown me great civility. What would greatly delight 
you is the royal hunting establishment, which the king maintains at a 
vasi expense, being his hobby. He has vast forests stocked with game, 
and a complete forest police, forest masters, chasseurs, piqueurs, jagers, 
etc. , etc. The charm of the thing is, that all this is kept up in the old 
style ; and to go out hunting with him, you might fancy yourself in one 
of those scenes of old times which we read of in poetry and romance. I 
have followed him thrice to the boar hunt. The last we had ex- good sport. The boar gave us a chase of upwards of two hours, 
and was not overpowered until it had killed one dog, and desperately 
wound* d several others. It was a very cold winter day, with much snow 
on the ground ; but as the hunting was in a thick pine forest and the 
day was sunny, we did not feel the cold. The king and all his hunting 
i" were clad in an old-fashioned hunting uniform of green, with 
i caps. The sight of the old monarch and his retinue galloping 
through the alleys of the forest, the jagers dashing singly about in all 


directions, cheering the hounds ; the shouts; the blast of horns; the cry 
of hounds ringing through the forest, altogether made one of the most 
animating scenes I ever beheld. 

I have become very intimate with one of the king's forest masters, who 
lives in a picturesque old hunting lodge with towers, formerly a convent, 
and who has undertaken to show me all the economy of the hunting 
establishment. What glorious groupings, and what admirable studies 
for figures and faces I have seen among these hunters. 

I have done nothing with my pen since I left you, absolutely nothing ! 
I have been gazing about, rather idly, perhaps, but yet among fine scenes 
of striking character, and I can only hope that some of them may stick 
to my mind, and furnish me with materials in some future fit of scrib- 

I have been fighting my way into the German language, and am regain- 
ing my Italian, and for want of more profitable employment have turned 
play actor. 

"We have been getting up private theatricals here at the house of an 
English lady. I have already enacted Sir Charles Rackett in "Three 
Weeks after Marriage," with great applause ; and I am on the point of 
playing Don Felix in " The Wonder." I had no idea of this fund of dra- 
matic talent lurking within me ; and I now console myself that if the 
worst comes to the worst I can turn stroller, and pick up a decent main- 
tenance among the barns in England. I verily believe nature intended 
me to be a vagabond. 

I continue the sketch of his life at Dresden, with some 
extracts from his note-book, beginning some days after 
the date of the letter to Leslie, just given. 

April 1st.— Write letters all the morning— little Madame de Bergh* 
makes an April fool of me. 2d.— In the evening, dressed rehearsal of 

* Wife of the Danish Minister. 
vol. i. — 27 


ler" at Mrs. Foster's. 3d. [Tliursday.]— My birthday— at 
rive into the country with the Fosters and Colonel Livius ; 

return before dark. In the evening a small party at Mrs. 

to keep my birthday. The Miss Fosters prepare a surprise by 

up tableaux of scenes in the "Sketch Book" and "Bracebridge 

and Knickerbocker. The picture by Leslie of Dutch courtship 

admirably represented by Madame de Bergh and Captain Morier. An- 

■ Delarbre by the young Countess Hernenbern, Madame Foster, and 

Captain Morier. Boar's Head Tavern, Eastcheap, by Mrs. Foster, Miss 

Flora Foster, and Captain Morier — conclude the evening by waltzing. 

Friday, ith. — Busy all day getting dress for the character of "Don 
Felix"— Mrs. Foster assists in new trimming a very handsome velvet 
< In ss, and makes a new scarf — in the evening we performed the play of 
"The Wonder, a Woman keeps a Secret," with great alteration. 

Don Felix, Mr. Irven-g. 

Col. Briton, Capt. Morier. 

Don Pedro, Mr. Pigott. 

Lissardo, Col. Livius. 

Donna Yiolante, Miss Foster. 

Isabella, Miss Flora Foster. 

Marguerite, Mrs. Foster. 

Among the audience were the Austrian Ambassador, Count and Count- 
Palffy, Count and Countess Luxbourg, Count Rumigny, Cheva- 
lier Campuzano, Countess Loos and daughters, Monsieur and Madame 
de Bergh, the Lowensteins, Malsburg, Miss Fitzhern, Countess Lubinski, 
etc., etc., etc. 

April 10/7).— . . . Go to Ponic to hear decision about my having 
I a pistol out of my window. The legal penalty twenty dollars and 
forfeiture. I am let off for two dollars eight groschen fine, and two dol- 
lars some groschen cost, and the pistol returned to me. Very lenient on 
the part oi Mr. Rarow the President. 


[The pistol -was a small one, borrowed of Colonel Liv- 
ius, to be used in playing Don Felix in " The Wonder," 
in the mock drunken scene. Finding it loaded, he opened 
a window, and fired it off; making himself unconsciously 
amenable to the law.] 

April 11th. — Head Italian with Mrs. Foster — dine there — after dinner 
read them some MS3. 

12th. — ... Go to the Fosters, and pass the evening reading 
from scrap books, and telling ghost stories until eleven o'clock. 

loth. — . . . Go to the Lowensteins and pass the evening there 
until near eleven — Mademoiselle Annette very curious about my early 

Sunday, April 27th. — Go to Mrs. F. — read Italian till two — dine there 
early as there is a court ball at six — return home to dress — at six go to 
ball given by Prince Max in Prince Frederick's apartments — the King 
and Queen of Bavaria and of Saxony there — dance with E. and F. Fos- 
ter — Queen of Saxony sent the master of ceremonies to bring me to her — 
said she had not seen me for a century — that she had just received my 
works from Paris, and made many compliments on it — said she expected 
I would write something about Dresden, etc., and about the chasse [a 
purpose entertained by him, but never fulfilled].— King of Bavaria told 
me he knew Franklin in Paris, and after Franklin's departure he had 
bought a horse and cabriolet which belonged to him — returned home 
about ten or half past. 

May 5th. — Trotter calls and postpones the journey to the Riesen Ge- 
birge. — Go to Mrs. Foster's to read Italian — dine there with Cockburn, 
etc. — pass evening there till nine — Mrs. Foster very anxious for me to 
change my travelling plans and accompany them to England. 

May 14th. — Walked out to Prussnitz in morning — saw Cockburn, who 
agreed to accompany me in tour to Riesen Gebirge — went to Foster's in 
evening — spent a very pleasant evening chatting. 


On the 20th of May, in company with the young Eng- 
aamed, Mr. John Cockburn of the artillery, 
. Irving set out on a tour he had been some time con- 
templating to the Eiesen Gebirge, or Giant Mountains, a 
chain of mountains that separate Silesia from Bohemia. 
He revisited Prague seven days after his departure, and 
in this picturesque old city his stay was prolonged by the 
illness of his companion to the 24th of June. He returned 
to Dresden on the 26th of June, after an absence of five 
weeks. Here he remained until the 12th of July, when 
he took his final departure for Paris, travelling part of 
the way in company with his friends, the Fosters, who 
were on their return to England. 

They had made their house absolutely a home to me [he writes to Peter] 
during i ly residence in Dresden. I travelled in an open carriage with 
Mrs. Foster ; the two Miss Fosters and her two little boys followed on in 
a post chaise with their German tutor. 

The commencement of our tour was most auspicious, but after leaving 
Leipsic, as we approached the Hartz regions, we met with one of the 
most tremendous squalls of wind, dust, rain, hail, thunder and lightning 
I ever experienced. 

I extract the particulars of this travelling incident 
from some scarcely legible pencilled memoranda. 

Foster gets on the box with me— fine and warm — country begins 

to grow more varied — see a storm gathering ahead — it advances rapidly — 

I see that it is a thunder-gust and likely to be a severe one — get Mrs. 

r into carriage — make the carriage all fast and ready — mount the 

•' with box coat and a fur mantle about my legs, and umbrella — gust 


comes on with a hurricane of wind, raising clouds of dust — the earth 
seems thrown up into the air — the clouds brown with dust — the wholo 
atmosphere thickened and darkened — gust comes more and more terrible 
— horses can hardly draw on the carriage — begins to rain — rain driven 
with incredible violence — hail — large as hazel-nuts — storm increases — one 
horrible blast of wind succeeds another — umbrella breaks and is whirled 
off into a neighboring field — mantle flies after it — horses get frightened — 
I descend from coach-box — fear the carriage will be blown over — the two 
leaders become unmanageable — postdion jumps off and tries to hold them 
— they turn round and go down a bank — try to keep them quiets — they 
continue restive — drag carriage after them down a steep bank into a ditch 
— pole breaks — carriage overturns — rush to the place and get the ladies 
out — none hurt materially — bruised a little — drenched to the skin in an 
instant — leave them there and run to a house about half a mile off — find 
a smith's shop with a small country inn beside it — send workmen to look 
after the carriage, and order rooms to be prepared for ladies — run back to 
carriage — the storm is already over — find them all drenched to the skin, 
but in good spirits and unhurt — they walk to the inn — the carriage is 
with much trouble righted and dragged up the bank backward by two 
horses and six or eight men — get safe to the inn — a new pole is made — we 
all change our clothes, and after a repast of cold tongue and wine, set off 
in good spirits — the ladies give their hats, which were quite wet, to a 
pretty maid servant at the inn — and likewise a shawd — she wdl bo the 
belle of the neighborhood. 

This storm was "the overture to a long series of bad weather" [he 
writes to Peter] that lasted during our tour. Still there were intervals of 
beautiful sunshine which we enjoyed the more from contrast. We accom- 
plished a tour through the Hartz mountains, which surpassed my expecta- 
tions ; not from their height, but from the magnificence of the forest scen- 
ery, which reminded me of our American forests. We then passed through 
the Golden Arc or Golden Meadow, which lies between the Hartz and the 
Kyffhauser mountains, and continued on to Hesse. I was delighted with 
the beauty of this last country, of which, somehow or other, I had no ex- 
pectation. In about ten days from our leaving Dresden, we arrived at the 


itiful little city of Cassel, the capital of Hesse, where we remained a 
couple of days to repose from the fatigues of travelling, and to have a 
little pleasant time together before we parted, as I had intended making 
the beat of my way for Paris from that place. When it came to the last 
i rening, however, it seemed hard to part thus in the midst of a tour, so 
t be xx-xt morning I resumed my seat in the carriage, determined to see my 
fair companions safely on board the steamboat at Rotterdam. We had 
better weather during the remaining part of the journey and passed 
through some lovely country ; a part of what was formerly Westphalia. 
At Rotterdam the Fosters embarked. I accompanied them down to the 
Brille and then bade them adieu as if I had been taking leave of my own 
family ; for they had been for nearly eight months past more like relatives 
than friends to me. 

I now made the best of my way for Paris, travelling day and night, ex- 
cepting a short stay of a night and part of a day at Antwerp. I arrived 
here the day before yesterday [August 3], and have been taking lodgings 
in the Hotel de YorcJc, Boulevard Montmartre. I shall now put myself 
en train for literary occupation, as it is high time for me to do something, 
having been so long unsettled.